Tag Archives: Queensryche fan forever

Because they are the best heavy metal/progressive band on the planet. Parts of my books have been inspired by their music.

New Music Rec: Leah (Symphonic/Celtic Metal)

I’ve always been passionate about music. It uplifts, it calms, it makes me think. I was exposed to music very early in my life, as my parents were always playing it. Because of that, I grew up listening to all kinds of music. When I was a teenager, I discovered heavy metal, and have more or less stayed within that genre since then. (I am also a diehard fan of classic rock – stuff like Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, The Who, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Styx, Steve Miller Band…the list goes on and on!). I have also been a huge fan of the band Queensryche since I discovered them in the 1990s (high school). They were, at the time, more progressive, and their songs always made me think. It was deep stuff when most bands were singing about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, I need a bit more 🙂 (They’ve gone through some changes since then, including going a bit lighter and then changing singers and then exploding into metal again. While I respect the former lead singer, Geoff Tate, I have to give the new singer, Todd La Torre, credit for revitalizing the band and their brand. But overall, their music has literally changed my life.)

Soooo about 5-6 years ago, a good friend of mine turned me on to symphonic metal, which is heavy metal with symphonic and sometimes fantastical influences. A good portion of symphonic metal bands have female lead singers, which is awesome, as there aren’t many out there in metal. And, most of them are not American, which makes it even more interesting.

Most people know Nightwish. They’re Finnish, and they were like, the biggest symphonic band around. Then came others. And there are an amazing amount of them out there now. I almost can’t keep up. Now my music collection is about 70% symphonic or femme metal (metal fronted by women) and about 30% everything else.

I still love metal and classic rock — and 80s hair bands and pop bands and all that (I was an 80s child). But…I think the thing that brings me back again and again to symphonic metal is how different the sound is. If you’ve never heard it, I’m not sure I can explain this well, but I’ll try. There’s just…more to it. More musical elements. Beautiful arrangements and equally beautiful voices. The lyrics are cool, too. Some deal with fantasy type stuff. And most trend toward dark, which again, is totally me. 😉 So I enjoy them. I also enjoy going on mad hunts for new bands. Most of the bands I’ve found are from hunts. (Pandora radio and Spotify are my friends in this. Nowadays you can sample stuff before you buy, which I strongly suggest. Because this is so different, you want to know before you buy if you even like it!)

Recently I saw an ad for a symphonic metal/Celtic singer Leah and decided to get a free download of three songs. I think I found a new one! I really, really like her music. She’s got a great voice, there’s some symphonic in it, and some Celtic (another favorite)! I’ve spent all afternoon sampling her music and am itching to purchase something. I didn’t really know what to expect from an ad — never have done that before. But I figured I couldn’t go wrong with free. From like, the first few bars of the first song, I was hooked.

So, if you think you may enjoy her music, or are just curious, check it out. I believe you can get it on her website http://www.leahmusic.net. (The ad was on Facebook if that helps). Her newsletter’s pretty cool, too. In the last one, she had pictures of herself wearing homemade chain mail. Yeah! Pretty neat!

So that’s my recommendation for today. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

RSW Progress Report 7/13/15

It’s Ready, Set, WRITE time!

How did I do?

How I did on last week’s goal(s)

~1,000 words minimum on Fireborn (Camp Nano) DONE – 2,830 words
~1,000 words minimum on Covenant (Camp Nano) DONE – 1,903 words
~Work on Survivor this Sunday DONE. Determined that I need to re-outline it, so I started that.
~Finish reading book #1 for review (so close to being done!) DONE!
~Start book #3 for review Nope. 😦

My goal(s) for this week:

~!,500 words minimum on Fireborn (Camp Nano)
~1,500 words minimum on Covenant (Camp Nano)
~Work on Survivor outline (midpoint, doorway of no return, and clue/discovery/setback)
~Start book #3 for review
~Photography stuff: take pics at camp (this weekend), play with new camera if it arrives this week

Yep, I bought a new camera last night. It’s a Nikon DSLR converted to infrared only. Sounds odd, but infrared photography is SO BEAUTIFUL (b&w, I mean. With film). I’m gearing up to do b&w infrared as well, and I’d like to see how each method works. I studied this stuff in college and have my own darkroom. I haven’t been able to get back in there after some health issues (a looooong time) and I promised myself I’d do something with it this year. So, that’s a thing.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: Survivor’s opening lines:

I took stock of my situation. I was high, drunk to the point of incoherence, and my going away party was starting to resemble a wake. I glanced at my swollen eyes and puffy face in the mirror. My makeup, artfully applied, ran in a rainbow of thin lines down my face. I looked almost comical, if I weren’t so damn depressed.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ie finding time to write, getting sick, having writer’s block, etc):

Making the decision to scrap most of the first draft of Survivor and rewrite it from scratch. The quality of the writing bothers me, and I’m beginning to get ideas of new directions and twists. So that’s good. But, damn, it felt terrible. 😦 (I will be using select parts, though, the ones written in 2007 and 2009 — there are some GREAT things in there.)

Something I love about my WIP: I’ve talked about how much I love Survivor because of the twins thing and the psychological horror parts, but there’s the whole conspiracy thing going on with mind control. 😉 Fabricated memories. Losing memories. Hypnosis. Brainwashing. Several characters have this little problem. If anyone’s familiar with Operation: Mindcrime by the band Queensryche, you’ll understand where that all came from. I wanted something more than just a story about twins. This intrigued me. I did research on mind control and brainwashing and read every book I could get my hands on. I think it’s really unique and horrifying, which is right up my alley. (I love all things dark and spooky and twisted).

How’d you do?

The NEW Queensryche?

I’ve been meaning to talk about this for months, and now that there are two new albums to talk about, it seems like a good time.

Most people who know me know that I’m a huge fan of Queensryche.  I discovered them in the 90s with their awesome Empire album.  Then I backtracked and obtained all of their older stuff, and fell even more in love than before.  Their music is not only kick-ass, but it says something, you know?  It’s not just mindless fuzzy crap. 

However, after Promised Land released in 1994, their musical quality took a downturn.  Something went horrendously wrong, and they put out album after album of crap.  Now, there are a few exceptions.  American Soldier, released in 2009, was pretty good and a neat concept album.  Operation: Mindcrime II, released in 2007, was pretty good, too — there was no way they’d ever be able to do another Operation: Mindcrime again.  It just wasn’t possible.  Obviously, there is something lacking from OM: II but on the whole, it was a decent attempt at a sequel to what is a legendary album. 

So apparently there were creative differences.  And last year, vocalist Geoff Tate was fired from the band after allegedly spitting on two of his bandmates.  He also apparently was controlling the musical direction which accounted for the hideous drop in quality of their more recent albums.

I’ve always loved Geoff Tate.  He has one of the most amazing and unique voices of anyone.  I saw QR in concert for the first time in 2009 and was blown away.  There’s no doubt that he’s talented.  He’s been dubbed “the voice of Queensryche.”  Well, when the news broke, I was heartbroken.  My favorite band was basically no more.  They split into two versions: Geoff Tate’s version with all new musicians, and the original musicians plus singer Todd La Torre.  I wanted to keep an open mind about both — who says a fan needs to take sides, right?

That was before Tateryche released their album Frequency Unknown. Well, let’s just say this.  It is painfully obvious that he rushed it to get an album out before Torreryche.  Even the title screams revenge.  The cover has two hands with rings with the initials “F.U.”  Really?  Can you be so immature?

I gave the album a chance, though.  I listened to it on Spotify and tried to like it, I really did.  But, damn.  It was another Dedicated to Chaos, which to me is one of the worst QR albums ever.  And the remakes of the four hit songs?  Painful. I can’t even believe that this is Queensryche.  And it isn’t.  It’s Geoff Tate with new musicians trying to recapture his former glory and failing.

I had high hopes when I learned that Torreryche was releasing an album.  I heard some samples and was impressed.  On June 25th, release day, I bought it off iTunes and settled in to see what they came up with.

And they fucking nailed it.  Everything about QR that I love was there.  Their signature sound was back.  The heavy metal was back.  Even LaTorre’s voice was reminiscent of Tate, but not a true copy which is good.  I wouldn’t want a Tate copy.  La Torre brings new things to the table and it’s so clear that the whole band has been renewed and inspired.  Apparently they are all involved in the songwriting and music, as it wasn’t with Tate.  It’s like they’re risen up like the phoenix from their own ashes and came out bigger and better and more amazing than ever.

So, yeah, my allegiance is with Torreryche.  They went to court and were both allowed to use the QR name until the hearing this November.  I expect that someone will lose rights to the name, and I’m hoping it’s not Torreryche.  Because these guys have been true to the QR sound and lyrics and I’d hate to see them start all over again with a new name.  (They were very briefly performing as Rising West until that first hearing, and had a good reception from the fans). 

A lot of people are saying that Tate is irreplaceable, and it will be the death of the band (or quite possibly has been the death of the band).  Yeah, Tate was amazing in his time.  And I respect him as a vocalist.  But there’s nothing wrong with new blood.  And if they can’t work out their differences, it’s better they split.  I’m just happy that the band didn’t break up over this.  It’s been 30 years.  How many bands have been around that long?  Not many.

So, that’s what I’m thinking.  I’m so looking forward to more from Torreryche.  And I will continue to follow both, but my heart’s with Torreryche.  They’re the new Queensryche.  Look out Tate.  I think they are here to stay.  

In which you learn more about me than you ever wanted to know…

Internet memes.  I’ve been tagged in one, and I tagged myself in another.  To make things so much more interesting, I’ve decided to combine them together to create one big Q&A where hopefully you’ll learn something new about me.

Or not.

So, let’s get this shindig started, shall we?

1. Of your characters, who would you most like to have as a real-life friend?

Alisia Duvall from Pirouette.  She is passionate, stubborn, strong, and brave.  She’s loyal and she’ll do anything for those she loves.  And she can communicate with ghosts, which is really interesting.

2. Which would you not want to be around anywhere but in the pages of a book?

There are quite a lot of characters too scary to be anywhere but in the pages of one of my books, but if I were to pick just one, I’d have to go with Raelan, the antagonist from Pirouette.  Spending any length of time in his twisted mind gives me the creeps.  And how he justifies his twisted actions?  Yeah, scary.

3. When a song bowls you over and you have to hear it again and again, what is probably the reason? (Great voice, real emotion, clever lyrics, et cetera)

All of the above!  Seriously.  I’ve fallen in love with songs for the voice (Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Adam Lambert come to mind), lyrics, emotion.  Sometimes a song will hit me so hard it gives me shivers.  One that does that all the time, even though I’ve listened to it at least a thousand times, is Queensryche’s Eyes of a Stranger, which happened to be the first song of theirs I ever heard.  And that was it.  I was a goner.  The main reason is the lyrics and situation behind the song (it’s part of a concept album) and Geoff Tate’s incredible voice.

Another one is Crestfallen by Avantasia.  It stuck in my mind for a least 3 days afterward.  It was a combination of lyrics, feeling, and the song construction itself.  Just…shiver-inducing.

4.Of everywhere you’ve been, where was your favorite place to be? (Home is a perfectly acceptable answer!)

New Orleans.  I seriously considered moving there at one point.  This was pre-Katrina, so I have no idea what it’s like now.  Then, it was a place of magic and wonder and art.  It was amazing, and I desperately want to go back someday.

5. Where do you want most to go?

Ireland.  Because I’m Irish, and I’d like to see where my ancestors came from.  (And I hear it’s amazing).

6.What is the meaning of life? (okay, okay–YOUR life.) What do you think your life is about?

Um…well, I think life is a big mystery.  A journey, not a destination.  Constant evolution, becoming the person you are meant to be.  Everything that happens helps shape you, helps you evolve. (I’ve given this a great deal of thought over the years).

7. What’s the best thing about what you do for a living?

Well, I work a soul-sucking day job, so there’s not much that’s good except the paycheck (and that it exists!).  But one of the effects of working a day job is the structure.  I need structure, and without it (like on weekends), it’s very difficult to be productive because hey, I have so much time!  Holy crap!  I’ll do that…tomorrow.  Nah.  Tonight.  Nah.  And nothing gets done.  Since I have limits on my time during the week, I have to work to fit it all together and thus it helps me stay on task.

8. What do you do when you need inspiration?

I listen to music.  Sometimes it’s music that fits the mood.  Sometimes it’s the actual soundtrack I put together for the project in question.  Sometimes I let my mind wander.  It depends on the situation.

9. When you need some time for you, where do you go?

I hide out in my basement office (my “woman cave”).

10. Plotter or pantser?

It depends on the story in question.  Some I’ve written using a loose outline.  Others I’ve written using a monstrous detailed outline of doom (which worked quite well).  And there are some that I’ve completely pantsed.  I actually prefer to pants it the whole way, but that could be the fried brain talking. (I just finished an intense, unspeakably brutal revision on Fey Touched and my brain is now fried.  And quite possibly dead).

11. To close with a (fairly) easy one–talk about a book. Any book. :)

Oh, god.  Let’s see…if I mention my own, will you think I’m a narcissist?  Oh, fuck it. Fey Touched rocks, guys.  It’s a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance.  It has swearing and battles and sex.  It’s got some awesome twists and turns in it.  Buy it, buy it, buy it in August (oops.  Got carried away there).

In the interest of fairness, I will mention The Hunger Games, which I just finished reading.  It was a great book.  Kept me totally riveted.  Very unusual premise.  I’m reading book 2, Chasing Fire (talk about appropriate titles!) right now.

12. What was the first story you ever wrote? Spare no embarrassing details.

Oh, boy.  Can I skip this question?  No?  All right, fine.  When I was a kid, I was obcessed with unicorns and wrote a story about a girl who gets transported to a place called Unicorn Valley where she meets these uh, unicorns and she ends up saving them from an evil …something or another.  I don’t actually remember.  It’s scary but I still have it somewhere.  I’m sentimental like that.

13. What’s your favorite nonfiction topic to read about?

Well, as of late, it’s been the Holocust.  It started with a book called Rena’s Promise that’s a true account of a Holocust survivor’s time in Auchwitz.  But my go-to topic is science news and/or brainwashing.  For stories, of course!  I’m intrigued by the brain and the human mind.  And the human spirit.

14. How much research do you feel like you need to do before you start a new story?

Depends on the story.  Some require a lot, some don’t.  I try not to get bogged down in it (but it’s so much fun!)

15. Writing challenges (ala Nanowrimo) – useful, or merely stress-inducing?

Useful to the point of obcession.  I can’t formally participate anymore because my wrists are the suck, but I try to do something at my own pace, using the Nano (or challenge) spirit to keep me moving.  I do well with challenges.

16. Why do you write your main genre?

Well, once upon a time, a romance reader got hounded by her mother to read a fantasy novel called Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind.  “But I’m not a fantasy person,” she complained.  “I’m not into this.”  “But you’ll love it!  Just give it a try!” Her mother said, pushing the book into her hands. The reader put it off, dreading it, but finally decided to pick it up.

And she was fucking hooked.  Everything — the people, the magic, the world, the story itself.  The main characters, who were brave and noble and amazing.  The struggles they went through.  The love they had for each other that survived through hell and back.

The reader said, “Wow, I never knew it could be this cool!  Or riveting! Or amazing!  I must read more!”

And the result of that reading frenzy, which continues to this day (going on 8 years), is this romance only reader decided to write fantasy.  Because she wanted to write something this amazing, with noble and brave characters and love that survives anything in a world of magic.  Thanks, Mom!  Best thing you ever did.

17. What genre/author/book do you secretly love but would never admit to in polite conversation?

*blushes* Adam Lambert fanfiction.  Don’t look at me like that!  There are some really good fics out there, and it’s interesting to see the different authors’ spin on things, real or imagined.  And anything Adam is happy-inducing.

18. What’s your favorite movie-adaptation of a book?

Well, it’s not a movie, it’s a TV series called Legend of the Seeker, based on Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books (Wizard’s First Rule is book 1).  They made a lot of changes and although a lot of fans were upset, I think they did a decent job.  Unfortunately, it was cancelled after the second season, so we may never know what comes next (no, I’m not bitter.  Oh all right, I’ve had a sad since finding that out.  A sad that won’t ever go away, sniffles).

19. What is your favorite type of cephalopod?

Octopi, although I’d never eat one (can you say suction cups?  Ewwww.)

20. What is your writing tool of choice?

Computer.  Can’t live without it.

21. What are your feelings about the proper usage of whom?

My feelings are quite intense.  Because I pride myself on good grammar and spelling and all that shit, I think people should be more aware of their usage of it.  Sometimes, I go into convulsions over bad usage.  Makes quite the spectacle at work.

22. What are you doing to bring yourself closer to your writing goals?

A couple of things.  Currently, I’m gearing up to self-publish Fey Touched as an experiment.   I will at some point be looking at Pirouette again for agent submission.  Also, I continue to learn as much as I can.  I’m taking Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class, and hope to come out of that with a saleable novel.

23. Where do you get your ideas from? :-P

The hamsters in my head, of course.  Seriously, anything and everything.  My brain likes to sift through things and make connections.  It’s kind of scary at times.

24. If you have some terrible old stories that will never see the light of day, which one do you still have a soft spot for?

That would be what is technically the first draft of Fey Touched.  It’s called The Sacrifice and it was my first  finished novel that I completed in 30 days for my first NaNoWriMo in 2003.  Although not much of that draft remains except the main characters’ names and the whole paranormal creature/hunter thing, although now they’re science-based and…never mind.

25. Where in the world would you live if you could live anywhere?

New Orleans.

26. Where would you love to visit, but not live?

Colorado.  Mostly because I can’t breathe there but love, love the mountains.

27. What’s the most awe-inspiring moment you’ve had (that you’re willing to share)?

That would have to be atop Pike’s Peak in Colorado.  It was as if I were on the top of the world.  Amazing.  Also amazing were the American Indians that did dances for us (I knew one personally and we were close and it made me feel closer to him even though he’s deceased).

28. Who’s your captain — Kirk, Picard, Captain Jack from Torchwood, Jack Sparrow, Malcolm Reynolds, other?

Captain Janeway of Voyager, of course!

29. Which author’s universe would you love to write in if you could?

Oh man, tough question.  Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to two.  Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth world and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever world.  Both are amazing.

30.What was your gateway drug into your genre of choice?

Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.

31. What’s your favourite hobby, creative or otherwise, when you’re not writing?

Photography and reading, hands down.

32. Are you a morning person or an evening person?

Sooooo not a morning person even though I work a day job.

33. What was the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?

I’ve had a lot of memorable meals so that’s hard to say.  Every holiday I’m bowled over by the amazing cooking skills of my mother and mother-in-law.

34. To plot, or not to plot?

Yes and no.  Depends on the book.

35. If you could have one super-power, what would it be?

Gonna sound like a twisted maniac for this, but it’s pretend so…what the hell…mind control.

36. Of all the stories you’ve created, which one’s your favorite, and why?

This is tough.  Really, really tough.  Six months ago I would have said Pirouette, but Fey Touched is also dear to my heart.  It’s a tie.  I refuse to choose.

They both have the coolest protagonists and they both have amazing twists and difficult decisions to make.  Both have romances, both have an intriguing world.  Both have scary antagonists with scary magic/technology/personalities.

See?  Can’t do it.

37. What’s your genre of choice, and why?

Already answered that, but basically fantasy because there are so many different possibilities. And there’s magic.

38. If you were given one “free” year (no responsibilities, a year’s worth of disposable income) what would you do with it?

Write like a madwoman.  Natch.

39. What’s your strategy for beating Writer’s Block?

Well, usually that involves a wrong turn taken somewhere so I first try to pin down where I went wrong.  And then I analyze it to death.  Ad analyze it some more.  Then I brainstorm ways to fix it.  And then, I just write.  And keep writing.  That’s the best way to work through writer’s block in my opinion.

40. Do you tend to stay in one particular genre, or do you write all over the map?

I stay more or less within the speculative fiction genre (sci-fi, fantasy) but occasionally I veer into horror.  It’s that twisted, dark mind of mine.

41. What’s your “universal” theme?

This is a really tough question, as I don’t really set out to write to a theme, but if I were to guess, I’d say redemption.  That comes up a lot in my books.

42. Dogs or cats?

Team Feline for the win.

43. What’s the last thing you read that you couldn’t put down?

Rena’s Promise (about the Holocust survivor) and The Hunger Games.

44. If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be when you grow up?

This is assuming I could be anything I want regardless of ability (or math skill, as it were): a neurologist. Are we surprised?


Okay!  Now it’s your turn.  Pick 10 questions from the above and also answer the following:

1) Do you have a specific writing ritual that puts you into the proper mindset?

2) Have you based any characters on real people?

3) Who’s your favorite author of all time?  Why?

4) When did you know you were a writer?

5) What’s the craziest novel idea you’ve ever had?

6) What book of yours gave you shivers?  Why? (Doesn’t need to be horror, either).

7) Do you have specific songs associated with your current work-in-progress?

8) How long have you been writing?

9) What’s the secret project you wish you could write but haven’t yet?

10) Who is your coolest character ever?  Why?


I tag the following: whoever’s reading this and wants to play, SM Reine, Ana Ramsey, and Kendall Grey.


In My Dreams With You

“In My Dreams With You” by Steve Vai is becoming Natasha and Luke’s theme in Alpha Female.  When I started it, it was one of the songs that I continuously played.  Along the way, I sort of moved away from it.  But today, once I painted myself into a corner with the plot, I put it back on and bam! It started working.  Beautifully, in fact.

Part of the reason, I believe, is this song’s personal significance to me.  Let’s just say that I have some pleasant memories associated with it, and I believe they helped fuel the process.  I find it fascinating that as a writer,  feelings evoked by a specific song and channeling that onto the page (or, the screen) is a really cool thing to be able to do.  I remember Holly Lisle saying something about using parts of yourself and your life (very little, not everything) in your fiction would make it more real to the reader.  But oftentimes, I as a writer need it to feel real to me.  And I think attaching a significant song to it made it more real, at least in my mind, enough so that I could write the scene fairly well.  It’s an interesting thing.

This is why I almost always have some type of theme song for characters, worlds, and books.  Alpha Femle reminds me a bit of Flamebound, because the music is influencing the plot in unexpected ways.  Queensryche’s “No Sanctuary” inspired an actual part of the world of Flamebound, and “Take Hold of the Flame” (also by Queensryche) inspired the entire thing.  And it’s both songs that drove the plot, drove the characters.  Music is very, very good for me and my muse.

So, that was a good writing session.  1,439 words, almost double my quota.  I’d had a migraine since last night that finally went away, and lamented to the beloved that I was out of the mindset because I’d skipped last night’s writing.  And it was a bit difficult at first, but Iron Maiden, believe it or not, got me through that part.

So I’m on my way.  My next task is to do a Tarot reading to generate a few plot twists.

Writing theme songs

All of my projects have at least one theme song attached to them, be it the whole book or an aspect of it.  I thought it might be interesting to list what they are and why.

Pirouette – all drafts (3rd draft in progress now):
 “Space Dye Vest” by Dream Theater.  I used this as Alisia and Lucien’s main “fighting” song.  It’s sad and torturous, and it brings up all kinds of heart-wrenching images in my head.  It just seemed perfect.

“Walk in the Shadows” by Queensryche – Raelan and Alisia’s theme.  In the last third of the book, [something spoilery happens] and for a time, Alisia and Raelan (who’s the villain) are….aligned.  This song, which talks about walking on the dark side of life, giving ino the darkness, fits the feeling of those scenes perfectly.

“The Killing Words” by Queensryche – Alisia and Lucien’s theme.  Just screams tragic, love, betrayal, heartbreaking stuff.  Sniff.

Flamebound (currently in revision):
“Take Hold of the Flame” by Queensryche.  The entire story is based on the song — or rather, my interpretation of it.  So many things tie to the world and story.

Survivor (recently finished first draft):
Operation: Mindcrime by Queensryche.  Yes, the entire album.  The book pretty much wrote itself to this awesome, magnificent album.  Since alot of the themes ran parallel to my story, it was almost eerie how the entire thing seemed like a metaphor for Survivor.  Some of it, like the brainwashing and mind control, were literal.

“Eyes of a Stranger” by Queensryche (on Operation:Mindcrime) – Amber’s theme.  Amber is the main character, and as she goes through some painful, traumatic stuff, she’s kind of transformed….and thus truly has the “eyes of a stranger.”

Requiem in Blue (2007 project)
“The Hands” by Queensryche – Meredith’s theme.  Meredith, the main character, is saved by someone.  “The Hands” makes me think of that, and salvation in general.

“Suite Sister Mary” by Queensryche – Some of the story was inspired by this song.  Especially one part about two people joining together to “make it through the night.”

Broken (currently in progress):
“Broken” by Lifehouse.  Also the why of the title, at least for now.  The song talks about being broken, and Amara, the main character, and the antagonist are both broken in a sense.

“Unbreakable” by Fireflight.  New band that I just discovered.  Totally Amara’s theme.  I realize that the songs seem contradictory, but it works, I swear!

Eowyn (perc’ing project for future):
“Ordinary World” by Duran Duran.  Theme of the book.  Because we’re dealing with quantum mechanics and alternate universes, and a “home” universe, it seems appropriate.

MindBound (future project):
“Lightning Field” by the Sneaker Pimps.  I saw a video of it and HAD to have the song, even though I’m not into that type of music.  Went on a wild goose chase and finally just today got ahold of it.  It’s THAT close to what this story is to me.  It (the story) has to do with an empath and pain and brainwashing, and the song is so perfect.  First words are “Strike me down…”  Can we say perfect?  Literal or figurative, it works. 

Soulfire (The Nano That Never Was):
“Lady Strange by Def Leppard.  Liana’s theme.  She’s the main character, and she isn’t exactly human and has non-human goals and wishes and such.  She’s a bit offbeat in her own way.

“Baba O’Riley” by The Who.  Book’s theme.  Completely encapsulates the dystopic future-Earth setting and the insidious reach of the New Regime.

Hereafter (Nano ’08):
“Women” by Def Leppard.  For no other reason than it gave me some compelling images inside my head, and somehow spawned plotty things.  This one I don’t really understand, but don’t question it, either.

At the moment, that’s all I can think of.  Will add more if I remember anything.

Tricking the muse.

For the past 2 weeks, I’d been blocked on the climax of Survivor.  I was crawling along, writing maybe 100-200 words a day if that, and it ws painfully slow and difficult.  Something wasn’t gelling.  All of my ideas about what could happen seemed stupid or cliche.  Usually, I’d plow on through, but this time, I took a step back and looked at it in a different way.

There was a barrier keeping me from my muse–or, maybe a barrier keeping me from  my muse’s knowledge.  We talked.  She whispered stuff in my ears.  In the shower, we brainstormed.  But nothing fucking gelled.

At the end of those 2 weeks, I was desperate.  Scared, b/c I couldn’t remember being this blocked.  Testy b/c writing sucked.  And, sleep deprived, due to a new medication.  I’d love to blame it, but I think it might have been a contributing factor, but not the cause.  Anyhoo, drastic action needed to be taken, or I’d stuff the whole thing in a drawer and forget about it.  And after 5 years of working on this puppy, there was no way I was going to abandon it that easily.

Soooooo I remembered something from somewhere (clear as mud, huh?) that said that switching to Notepad makes the writing seem not as serious.  It’s not a Great American Novel.  It’s just fun.  Playing. 

So that was my first step: I switched to Notepad.  I used to use it for poetry drafts, so maybe that connection has always been there. 

Then I thought, hmmmm.  I need to change something about this, to further trick the muse into thinking it was playtime.  I decided to use a POV I use rarely for protagonists AND present tense, which is a bit awkward, but what the hell?  I was desperate for something, anything.

Put on Queensyche on the iPod and went to town.

And….it worked beautifully.  It worked so beautifully that after I was done (in less than an hour), I sat there wondering if I’d dreampt it all.  And didn’t remember writing it all.  It just….poured out of me.  It was as if the story was already there, waiting for me, waiting for something to let it come to the surface.  It was fantastic.

I’m convinced that if I hadn’t done that, many of the cool things I came up with on the spot wouldn’t have come, or maybe would have taken longer to come.  The muse is a funny thing.  Our communication is usually really good, but something just wasn’t right.  And by removing the indicators that it was Serious Fiction, my muse thought she could come out and play. And play she did!

It did take an edit pass to clean up the typos, change the POV, and change the tense.  I ended up adding about 100 words to it in details and such.  It’s not perfect, but it’s words I didn’t have before, and that was good.  Very good.

I highly recommend this.  I don’t know if it will work all the time, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

Also, I wrote a prologue/backstory thing for Soulfire.  Liana, the protagonist, has been whispering to me for a week.  I wanted to get it down before it disappeared.

Soulfire is my next new project, after I’m done with Survivor and Pirouette the Third.  You hear that, muse?  Focus, focus, focus.

2008 in Review

Happy New Year to everyone.  I thought I’d reflect back on this year and talk about what I accomplished. 

The biggie of the year was finishing the Pirouette Rewrite on June 14th, which made it just under a year since I started it.  I managed to do that amid severe tendonitis, back-to-back surgeries (parents, not me, but still), learning and training and using voice recognition, and health issues.  For me, finishing it in 11 months was a bit of a miracle.  Starting tomorrow, I will be revising and polishing it.

I wrote just under 50k new words on Survivor.  I’d wanted to finish the first draft, but that didn’t happen.  Even so, Survivor is getting very close to the end.  My second priority in the new year is to finish it, give it the attention it deserves.  It’s been languishing waaay too long.

I wrote (and rewrote) Flamebound, the novella.  It, too, needs a revision and polish.  I hope to get that out the door in the new year, too.

I started my first contemporary romance, Like Summer, based on a short story I wrote many moons ago.  It’s on hold at the moment, because I’m not sure if contemporary romance is my thing.  We’ll see. 

I participated in NaNoWriMo, even though I didn’t plan on it, and ended with 54k.  And attempted to write a comedy, but being me, that just ain’t happening, but the book is quite unique and dark.  Just like me.  😉  It’s kind of my experimental draft for an e-course I’ve been in since July.  It’s called “How to Think Sideways” given by the talented and wonderful Holly Lisle.  What a course!!!!!  It’s funny, I’d worked up a few ideas for the course and had one set to go…..and then the one for Hereafter hit me upside the head after a stressful day at work.  It turned out waaay different than I could have imagined, and that’s okay, because damn it, I like surprises.

I beat my previous writing record for one week.  The record was 12,000, and I wrote it while on vacation using my Alphasmart Dana.  This year, I had to stay home due to severe burstitis, and I ended up with 17k.  I also pretty much began and finished Flamebound’s first draft that week.

I survived severe tendonitis and severe burstitis, both of which threatened to screw with my writing.  Not so.  I managed to produce despite all of that, and I’m damn proud of that.

Lastly, I’m finishing out the year with approximately 290k.  Could have made 300k, but this month has been rough for me in terms of time and motivation (yes, even I am sometimes unproductive.  Go fig).  But 290k is spectacular!!!!  Especially considering everything that happened this year.

Oh, and I moved into an apartment with my fiance.  That was another thing that halted the writing (and caused the burstitis, grrrr). 

I critted a few great novels, and I’m working on a few more. 

I discovered the shininess that is the band Nightwish, and I LOVE them.  And I’m still in love with Queensryche, fyi.

So alot has happened.  Alot has gotten done.  I’ve survived some big challenges, and I thank God for my intense drive to succeed and my motivation.  That’s one thing that I have that lot of people don’t: I’m driven to the point of obcession.  I have to do well, if not be the best.  I have to make my dreams reality.  Because if I don’t, what is life really worth?  Sure, I have family and friends and a wonderful fiance, but I would always wonder what if?  And yearn for what I didn’t have, what I didn’t try to attain.  I can’t imagine going through life never reaching for my dreams, never accomplishing anything of value.  It just isn’t in my makeup.

True immortality: writing.  I hope to God that I will get published and have my writing read by generations of people for many years to come.  If I keep working hard, it will be a reality.

See ya on the other side.

The End of Everything

Endings are tough for me.  I’ve been working on Flamebound’s ending for about a week, and just yesterday I had a breakthrough.
Usually, I have an idea of how I want to end a book; sometimes it’s very specific.  And sometimes it’s a bit nebulous, a glimmer of something there, but nothing definite.  That’s okay.  Until I get to the actual end.  Then, things get a bit hairy.
Alot of my endings have morphed and changed as the story went on — since I’m a hybrid plotter/pantser, I’m okay with changing stuffs. 
But sometimes–rarely–I’m totally stumped.
SPOILER for Flamebound follows!
I knew all along that Adrian and Diana were going to combine their flame and kill the Queen using it.  But how do they get there?  I wrote two scenes and stalled out. I’m convinced that they suck and must die.  So I set out to replot the ending scenes. END spoiler!
Strangely enough, it was a combination of things that worked: Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic (timed freewriting) and Queensryche.  Flamebound, at its heart, was based on the song “Take Hold of the Flame.”  It’s my literary interpretation of it.  ; )  And as I freewrote last nght, I played “No Santuary” which is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs off the Warning album.  And things were rough for a bit, but something clicked.  Something really old pinged my brain, and I had it.  I think this is it.  😀  This will be the 2nd time I’ve rewritten the end.
Bit of history: Flamebound was only supposed to be a novella — 15k.  That’s it.  First draft was 28k, and never ended, b/c I decided it needed to be rewritten and condensed.  Enter draft 2, which lasted maybe 5k.  When I decided yet again to scrap it.  The third draft is what I’m working on now, and I’m determined to finish it AND be done by November b/c I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year!
Draft one started on 8.26.08.  I was on vacation.
Draft two who knows?
Draft three: 9.23.08
It would be cool to finish on the 23rd.  Or the 26th, for symmetry and all that.
I believe this story is strong.  Trying to keep to the wordcount is a bear, but I figure it’s practice.  😉 And there’s always snipsnip…..
What’s next?  NaNo!  Stay tuned.

Revision day…or not.

Today I was supposed to start the Pirouette Rewrite One-Pass Revision, but I’ve decided to wait until I move and get settled.  I don’t want to lug around a 500+ manuscript.  And, more importantly, I’m just not ready yet.  The story is simmering in my head, but I’ve been focusing on Survivor, and that’s helped me get the needed distance from it.  I want to feel ready to rip it to shreds.  I’ve already made a list of what needs to be changed, so I have that as a guideline.

I’ve been told different things about distance — 1 month, 6 mos, more than that, even.  I’m not sure I can wait that long.  Pirouette will call to me.  I’m sure it will, when it’s good and ready.  I’m not writing to the market (I hear that’s not a good thing) but I would like there to be a market for it when I start the agent rounds.  But I’m also not going to push it.  I don’t want to send it in when it’s clearly not ready for agent perusal.

Can we just fast forward to the end of the Revision and call it done? 

Just kidding.  This will be an interesting experience, being my first real revision.

Survivor is just moving along.  Things have changed a bit, but for the better, I think.  I think I have a shot of getting it done within the next few months (!).  If I work my butt off, that is.  Timeline-wise, we’re just before the climax of the book.  So it’s almost there.  Pantser me, I meandered a bit, but I’m not off course…just taking a detour.

I could wrap it up within the next few days, but that would take away from the power of the story.  There’s a very specific thing that needs to happen to set the MC in a new, healthy direction.  I’m moving towards that.

I also have another idea percolating.  My awesome writing partner emailed it to me.. It’s for Silouette Nocturne Bites, 15k novellas.  Paranormal.  That’s about 40 pages.  And it would be a challenge to write something tighter.  Ideas….one of them is basing it off of a really cool song (by guess who?  Queensryche!) and another is a serial tracker thing.  Yet another is vampires underground.  Don’t know how I’ll choose.  But there’s no deadline, so I’m just going to let this one simmer away.

That’s about it.  No Revision, working hard on Survivor, got some new things to flog the muse with.