Blog

Tune-In Tuesday: My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light ’em Up)

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? 🙂

I’ve been in a writing funk for the past few months. While I tried and tried and tried to get out of this funk, it just didn’t work … at least not until I attended another Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson. Turns out, being around other writers and talking about the funk I’d fallen into was exactly what I needed. *smiles*

So for my first Tune-In Tuesday post back from my dreaded writing funk, I’d like to share a song from a band who’s released a new album this summer: Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light ’em Up).

Enjoy!

On Candy Crush and Writing

Ahhh, Candy Crush. I wish I could say that I have loads of self-control.That I was able to not succumb–yet again–to an online-Facebook game. But … I cannot. *grin* I mean, come in, cute rainbow-colored candies and nifty power-ups? Why, it’s like Bejeweled. But on crack. 😉

Candy Crush_Level
Looks complicated, huh?

In any case, I was incredibly lazy the weekend before last. My sister and I held a Slumber Party at our house, and so in preparation for this female-only gathering, I cleaned my house top-to-bottom, inside-out. I ran myself into the ground to make this place shiny and perfect for my guests. So what happened after this party? *crash*

My brain was not going to cooperate with my over-worked ass. Nope. So I lazed around all weekend and played … Candy Crush! I passed about 7 levels that weekend–woo hoo–and probably grew about a hundred new gray hairs in the process–boo! That’s when I realized how much Candy Crush is like writing. 🙂

It’s Addictive

Yes, yes, yes. Writing is like a drug for us writers. If we’re not writing, revising, editing, reading, thinking about writing, or making plans to write, then we’re grumpy as hell. And when we’re in our perfect little writing world doing any of these, we’re do deep in the hole that we don’t ever wanna come out and see the light of day. Just one more chapter to revise before bed.*wields red pen* 

Hmmm….. that sounds a lot like how I feel when I can’t get past a stupid level on Candy Crush! I’m addicted and have to keep playing to win the level. Just one more level, honey, and I’ll come to bed. Promise. 😉

Every Level is Like a Puzzle

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, at some point you have to stop writing and take a look at what’s on the page. Whether it’s at the end of the first draft and we need to map the bigger picture to ensure all the inner-workings are playing nice with one another, or if it’s a bit of plotting at a time as we’re writing that first draft, or if it’s before we even begin to type Chapter One. We look to decide how to move forward. What scene should go where. What’s the most logical follow-up to the scene we just wrote? Where does the character go from here? How do we get the Hero into the same room as the Heroine? How are they gonna serve it to the villain? Ugh, why won’t they just freakin’ cooperate already?!?

Again, this sounds pretty familiar. Because once you start getting into the higher levels on Candy Crush, you have to start thinking ahead. *gasp* There are obstacles in your way like jelly that you have to bust away, cages you need to spring a candy from, chocolate you must keep from growing and taking over the game board–er, wait … do we really want the chocolate to stop growing?

It’s Frustratingly Fun

At some point we all dart out of our chairs and threaten to throw our computers across the room. And instead of throwing our technological best friend against the wall, we walk away thinking that we’re never going to figure this scene/plot/character out. Never! BUT, after a nice, longer breather, we calm down, and suddenly the answer comes to us. So then we run back to our computers and BAM! We did it! We figured it out and we can move on. Am I right, or am I right? 🙂

Hehehe … yeah, this is me and Candy Crush. When I have to play a certain level more than 10 times to pass it, heck yeah my phone’s going to find itself breaking against a wall. Just kidding. Sort of. But in all seriousness, I keep coming back to it, like I do with writing. It doesn’t matter how frustrated the damn game makes me feel at times ’cause when it’s good, it’s good enough to outlast the smaller moments of frustration that I feel at not being smart enough to figure out the puzzle.

Candy Crush_Failed Level
Grrr….

Help! I’m Out of Lives. Help! I need more Moves to pass this level!

Every writer and author needs a good beta reader and/or critique partner. Someone to cheer us on, tell us we’ve got the power within us to make our stories shine. Whether online or in person, we have to not only surround ourselves with other writers/creative personalities, but we have to be willing to ask for the help!

In Candy Crush, you only have certain number of moves in which you can beat each level. And to make it a bit more interesting, you only have five lives. When you run out of your lives, you have to wait a certain amount of time before accruing more. *cries* But, wait! I have friends who also play Candy Crush. And they see that I’ve been stuck for a few days on this level. *checks Candy Crush inbox* WOO HOO! Friend A just gave me three extra moves and Friend B has given me a life. SCORE!

Candy Crush_Help Your Friends
Do Unto Others

It’s All a Part of Our Journey

Every word, every sentence, every line of dialogue, every scene, every chapter, every novel, every critique, every beta read, every blog post, every rejection and every acceptance are the building blocks that make up our writing journey. They are what makes us into better, stronger, NYT-bestselling-level writers. If we want to win at this publishing game, then we’ve gotta do the work. We’ve got to learn, master, and surpass every level of writing craft–especially if we wish to not only draw our readers in, but keep them wanting more.

We have to know when to sacrifice for our passion, when to take a break and decompress, when to stay up all night and when to listen to our bodies and go to bed. And we have to make smart investments with our money, energy and time. I have an hour before work. Should I write? Or should I play Candy Crush? *ponders* Writing it is!

Candy Crush_Journey
Wait, there’s more levels?!?

As of this morning, I’ve actually managed to stay off Candy Crush for 2 days. Okay, well, not completely. Because I want to continue to support my friends’ addiction to the game, I’ve logged in via cellphone and sent them lives and extra moves to help their progress. But other than that, no playing for this writer.

The new rule in my home is: No playing Candy Crush unless I write 500 fresh words. Oh! That means I get to play today since this post is well over 500 words, right? 🙂

What about you? Do you play Candy Crush? Can you think of additional writerly lessons from this game? Do you have another game-crack of choice? How do you abstain from playing?

Tune-In Tuesday: Titanium

Welcome back to another Tune-In Tuesday installment!

Who doesn’t love a song about strength? About facing down the world and telling ’em that no matter how many insults they fire at you, breaking is not an option. 🙂

Today’s song conveys just that–“Titanium” by David Guetta, featuring Sia.

Enjoy!

 

 

Happy Listening and Writing!

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: Scotty Doesn’t Know

Welcome back to Tune-In Tuesday!

This week I’m highlighting a song that always puts me a good mood. “Scotty Doesn’t Know” by Lustra, made famous by the movie Europtrip. 😀

No matter how bad your day is going, this song will never fail to make you smile because things could always be worse. Your significant other could break-up with you after your graduation. You could then find out via a rock song at a graduation party–in front of all of your friends–that your now ex has been cheating on you for a year.

In all seriousness, though, who doesn’t like the look of Matt Damon in this video? I mean, this cameo has to be one of the best cameos ever!

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Zombie – Cover by Breed 77

Welcome back to Tune-In Tuesday, a weekly visit down music lane where I highlight a song (or two, or more) from my writing playlists.

Two weeks ago I posted a few versions of the song “Feeling Good”. Today, I wanted to highlight one of my all-time favorite covers: ZOMBIE — originally recorded by The Cranberries and covered by Breed 77.

Enjoy!

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover or song you’d like to have highlighted in these weekly posts? If so, don’t be shy and speak up. 🙂

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: What The Water Gave Me

This week’s song, from Florence + The Machines, is courtesy of New York Times Bestselling Author Deborah Harkness and her YouTube playlist for the heroine of her All Souls Trilogy, Diana Bishop.

Many writers have a time in their lives when they’ve unintentionally walked away from writing. For some it’s school, for others it’s family, and for a few it’s simply the need to walk away and refill their creativity well. Ten years ago, I stopped writing due to the overwhelming workload at college. Then when I left school, I never went back to the writing. I was in my early twenties and simply forgot about all the fun I had with creating characters, worlds and stories. But when A Discovery of Witches was released, everything changed and I rediscovered my love of the writing craft. The creativity well was full, and way too many characters were ready to have their stories told. 🙂

Here’s a blurb for the book that will forever be known, in my heart, as my “reawakening”:

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.

For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well

Here’s a cool factoid about Diana: Her power as a witch extends to abilities such as Witch Fire, Witch Wind, and Witch Water (this last one is most likely why this song is on Diana’s playlist). Most witches in the All Souls Trilogy  world are gifted with only one of these abilities. So having all three in a witch who’s denied her legacy her entire life? Yeah, there’s bound to be magical “accidents” that make for a intriguing and unforgettable story.

Enjoy! 😀

 

 

What about you? Is there a book that inspired you to write? Or maybe a book that inspired you in other facets of your life? Have you ever taken a “writing break”? What brought you back to your love of the craft?

 

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! 😀

Photo via Stepping Thru Crazy

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

Tune-In Tuesday: Thirty Seconds to Mars

In honor of their new album’s U.S. release, today I’m featuring Thirty Seconds to Mars. 😀

Jared, Shannon, and Tomo really, really laid it down with their latest album, Love Lust Faith + Dreams. While listening to the new tunes this morning, I couldn’t help but feel as though they’d been secretly tapping into my writing life. Between the lyrics–“This is the fight to the death, our holy war. A new romance, a Trojan whore” (from Conquistador)–and the musicality of the album as a whole, I have to say that, as a fan, I am incredibly impressed and proud of these guys.

This album is sure to inspire many, many hours of writing for me, and I hope for you as well. Here’s the video to their first single off this new album, “Up In the Air.”

Enjoy!

Talk to me! Have you downloaded any new tunes lately?

Copyright 2018 by Melinda S. Collins