Music Monday – Mornay’s Dream – Braveheart

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicLast week, while reading and critiquing stories for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, I found myself explaining to a few writers how I believed a suspense should be written. I couldn’t always find the right words to support my tips and advice, so I decided to send them one of my favorite songs from the Braveheart soundtrack: Mornay’s Dream.

Braveheart-Soundtrack-from-the-Motion-Picture
To me, this song is suspense. It starts with a boom!, and is followed by some tense “dun, dun, dun”s before taking a small breath…and then going! And it builds and builds and builds to a climatic ending.
writing-suspense-michael-regina
As I explained what a great illustration of suspense “Mornay’s Dream” was to my fellow competitors, I found myself listening to it over and over again. After focusing all week on the lighter genre of political satire, I needed a song to get me back in the right frame of mind for my suspenseful manuscript. And this one did it.

So, if you’re looking to listen to a song that’s all about suspense, give “Mornay’s Dream” a listen.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://alexdang.info/2013/01/james-horner-braveheart-ost-itunes-plus-aac-m4a-1995.html

Friday Funny with a Side of Wonky and Flash Fiction

Attention, everyone! Attention, attention: It’s Friday!

So, to be perfectly honest, I spent the majority of my week doing this:

Daydreaming. Pondering. Staring off into La-La Land…

I’m not quite sure if I’m so tired I couldn’t focus on anything, or if I’m so focused on everything, I couldn’t focus on anything. Wait, that didn’t make sense. Let’s go with the first thing I said…

Yeah, yeah. I know. I need a vacation. But that isn’t happening, so let’s move on, shall we?

On a positive note, my life was much calmer than last week, and I no longer feel like I’m on the verge of a royal meltdown.

I spent all last weekend hermit-ing it up to regain my footing and get back on track with my manuscript–which I did. Phew! Better yet, I sent my beta reader new chapters, and her feedback was positive. Her exact words were: “All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!”

I’m hoping to send her one more chapter before tonight, when the 2nd round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge begins.

Dun, dun, dun…

Yes, yes. It’s time for another round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Buckle your seat belts!

So, yesterday I received my results for round 1. I don’t want to bore you with the details of the competition’s point system, so I’ll just say my story, Inevitable, took 11th out of the 40+ writers in my heat. Yeah, not too shabby, though I’d kinda hoped to crack the top ten. But whatever. For me, it’s not really about winning. It’s about challenging myself, improving my writing, and connecting with other writers.

Plus, I have to admit, Inevitable isn’t one of my favorite pieces I’ve produced. I’m proud of it and everything, but I wish I’d dug deeper and pushed myself harder. Suspense is one of my favorite genres to write, so I’m disappointed I didn’t try to take things to the next level.

Oh well, oh well. Onwards and upwards!

Round 2 begins tonight. At midnight, I’ll receive a new assignment (genre, location, object) and have 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story. Since I received suspense in round one, I’m betting I’ll receive comedy, romance, or–God forbid–political satire as my next genre.

Seriously, if I get political satire, I’m doooomed.

Anyway, in honor of my…hmm…I don’t know how to categorize this week. Wonky? Ha! Yeah, let’s go with that. In honor of my wonky week, here are a few random Friday Funnies. Enjoy!

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10257893_288674234658465_2390867437885549490_nHow was your week? Anyone have fun plans for the weekend? If I finish my writing contest early, I might crack out the Halloween decorations and gloom up my house a little. Of course, that means I’ll need to enter the dreaded Crawl Space of Spiders…Nope. Forget it. I’m not decorating this year 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

You Know You’re a Writer When…Dishes

10 Questions Your Readers Shouldn’t Have to Ask

Photo credits:

http://partyofoneblog.com/2013/07/finally-friday-is-funny.html

http://www.rowdychicken.com/media/19-dilemmas-every-book-lover-has-faced-at-least-once/

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/86751220.html?page=2

http://reactiongif.org/gifs/gif-cry-crying-lose-meltdown-sad-wine-work-gif/

http://www.urbansmoothie.com/2013/10/the-devils-reprise-devils-2-by-karina.html

http://hollygrass.blogspot.com/2014/05/hallelujah-its-friday.html

http://graphitedoll.tumblr.com/post/30306748060/everything-i-do-this-is-no-different

http://www.pinterest.com/slynnk94/i-want-to-be-a-writer/

http://thepeopleproject.com/writers/wine%20quotes

My Writing: The What, How, and Why

I know I’ve already participated in the popular writer’s blog hop going around–twice–but when Amanda from Amanda’s Nose in a Book invited me to join in again, I decided, why not? So here we go!

1) What am I working on? 

As most of you know, I’ve been elbow deep in revisions for my YA manuscript the past three or so months. This is an old project I optioned in 2010 to a production studio on the Paramount Studio lot. It’d been sitting on my shelf for over a year untouched until last fall, during NaNoWriMo, I realized it was time revamp it. COMPLETELY! I kept the basic concept and incinerated the rest.

My original goal was to have a polished manuscript ready to send off to agents this fall. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening. I’ve been working hard, but meticulous, so things are coming together a lot slower than I planned. But, it’s okay. I’d rather take my time and make sure things are solid, than rush  for the sake of finishing. That’s just silly.

At this point, my new goal is to have everything completed by January 1st–query letter, synopses, and all…We’ll see if that pans out.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that pretty much sums it up!

When I write, I have one main goal: to think way outside the box…which can be tough in the category I like to write for: Young Adult. However, no matter how tempting it might be, I refuse to hop on trends (vampires, dystopia, angels, etc.). When a genre/topic becomes hot, I avoid it like the plague. Why? Because by the time I write a book about it, it’ll be old news. Agents won’t want it, publishers won’t want it, and a lot of readers won’t want it. And that equals wasted time and–basically–a worthless manuscript.

So, if an idea isn’t fresh, different, and “Oooh, that’s cool!”, then I won’t pursue it.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Easy. A story demands me to tell it.

Okay, I’ll explain. My main focus is young adult (suspense, horror, drama). However, I don’t let that focus constrict me. If a story wants me to tell it, I will. In fact, I rarely sit around and brainstorm ideas. They come to me at the most random of times (on a jog, in the shower, at the grocery store, while working on a different project). Some ideas I explore immediately; others I write down for a later time. All of them, however, haunt me. They’re like little whispers begging me to pay attention to them and translate them onto paper. Unfortunately, I’m not a machine, so I’m only able to address one at a time.

So, why do I choose the one I do? Well, let’s just say that story’s “whisper” becomes a “SCREAM!”.

No matter what project I take on, I have to love it. If I don’t have the passion and drive to tell it, then I won’t. I can’t! Books take a ton of time, a ridiculous amount of effort, and a wide range of emotions. If I don’t have the heart for it, then I’ll pass and find one I do.

4) How does my writing process work?

Recently, I’ve figured out an easy way to explain my writing process. In a nutshell, writing a story is like baking a cake:

  • Draft 1: Throwing all the ingredients into a bowl. AKA, just write! There’s no real plotting or outlining or planning. I sit down at my computer, press play on the “movie” inside my head, and write. As I work, I take notes in an “Edit” document. This is where I scribble down plot holes as I discover them, mark down major character flaws, and ask myself “Why is this happening?” types of questions.
  • Draft 2: Bake the cake. AKA, build the story’s foundation. I use all those ingredients from my sloppy first draft and start baking them into a solid story. I analyze the plot, I mold my characters, and I constantly ask, “Why is this happening?” and “What is the purpose of this?” and “Is this important?” If there’s no answer, then I chop it out. Why do I need a line/scene/character if it doesn’t move the story forward?
  • Draft 3 (and so on): Frost the cake: This is when I go back and start making things “pretty”. I juice up my descriptives, deepen my characters, add an extra punch to my action scenes, zero in on repetitive words/phrases, etc. Basically, I search and search for every and any flaw, and then I find ways to add in a bunch of “WTH just happened?” moments for the reader. I like to make them think they’re out of the woods and then–bam! I twist the story one last time to knock them off their feet…Well, I try, lol!

Here are a few other do’s and don’ts about my writing process:

Do’s:

  • Pitch my concept/idea before I begin: Why work on a project if people aren’t fans of the idea from the get-go? So, before I type one sentence, I ask a handful of trusted individuals (writers, family, friends) what they think of it. If too many of them lack an “Oooh!” response, then I’ll toss it out and try another.
  • Listen to music for inspiration: I spend quite a bit of time commuting each day, and almost every minute of that commute is spent listening to music compilations I’ve created for whatever project I’m currently working on. They help me think/rethink scenes, come up with new ideas, or simply add fuel to my writing fire.
  • Find photos of my characters: Similar to music, I thrive off imagery, especially when it comes to my characters. As I write, I always have photos of my main leads nearby (aka, famous actors, models, or just random photos via Pinterest). These visuals help me imagine what my characters’ expressions might look like, or what they might say or do in a certain situation.
  • Use beta readers: Showing off your hard work is both exhilarating and terrifying. However, it’s an absolute necessity if you wish to query or publish it. Just because you think your book is shiny and pretty and perfect, doesn’t mean it is. So, I always send my rough drafts to a few people I know and trust, and who I know will be brutally honest with me. They won’t say, “Oh, it was so good! I loved everything about it!” They’ll say, “I liked these parts, but this scene didn’t make sense, this character was annoying, this relationship was shallow, this chapter was useless…etc.”

Don’ts:

  • Outline/pre-plot: I’ve attempted to sit down and outline a story before I start writing it, but it doesn’t work. When I write, I like to sit down and go! When people ask me how I can do this, I tell them it’s like a movie playing inside my head. I hit the “play button” and “watch” the events unfold. As a story progresses, I may pre-plot the next chapter in my head while listening to music, but, overall, a story evolves as I type it out.
  • Write with music/noise: Turn it off! Turn it off! Silence is golden when I write. I wish I could listen to the music that inspires me while I work, but it’s too distracting. In fact, I’ve been wanting to invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones.
  • Show first drafts: First drafts suck. They do! And mine are horrible because I don’t outline/pre-plot, so they’re crammed with loopholes, discrepancies, 2-D characters, repetitive words, stilted dialogue, needless scenes, lukewarm action, cheesy romance, confusing twists…I’ll just stop there 😉

So there you go! Hope you enjoyed some insight into my writing. If you’re interested in reading any of my work, click on Jen’s Pen up above!

Up next on this round of the writing blog hop are some of my favorite bloggers/writers! Be sure to check them out. 

Paul Draper 

PD Booth

Blog: The Bitumen Carnival

Twitter: @TheBlackGate

Darla G. Denton

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Blog: Darla G. Denton: Musings From a Curvy Romance Writer

Twitter: @DarlaGDenton

Facebook: Darla G. Denton

Jonathan 

Blog: 40 Stories for my 40th Year

Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicThis week, I will be working on some of the most intense, emotional scenes in my manuscript. In preparation for writing these heartbreaking chapters, and dragging my characters through the mud and turning their worlds upside down, I’ve been listening to Eminem and Rihanna’s powerful hit, “Love The Way You Lie”.

Eminem-Love-the-Way-You-Lie1This song is packed with conflict, pain, and all of the emotions I need to feel while writing these explosive scenes: betrayal, fury, heartbreak, fear, regret…I also love the lyrics and music video. Both help me tap into my dark side and go to places I don’t want to go–but must.

tumblr_ly5q65ZGOP1r9n7rxo1_500So, if you’re looking for a song that touches upon heavy topics, and inspires intense emotions, check out “Love The Way You Lie”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.free-youtube-mp3.com/eminem-rihanna-love-the-way-you-lie-download/

http://www.wattpad.com/43557165-lyrics-and-quotes-love-the-way-you-lie-eminem

 

Music Monday – I’m Shipping Up To Boston – Dropkick Murphys

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicGood news, everyone: I’m in the groove again! This past weekend, I set aside every and all distraction and wrote…and wrote and wrote and wrote. In fact, I was so into my manuscript, I had to force myself to stop yesterday to run errands and get out of the house for a few hours.

One of the things that helped me get pumped up and back on track was listening to “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys.

DKMThis song captures the essence of the chapters I’m currently working on: revenge, betrayal, anger, terror. It also lends excellent motivation for when I’m choreographing any fight scenes, and during this past weekend, I worked on two that were brimming with kicks, chops, and punches.

So, if you’re looking for a song that inspires “Ahh!”, “Grrr…”, and “hi-yah!”, check out “I’m Shipping Up To Boston!”

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.redbullusa.com/cs/Satellite/en_US/Article/Dropkick-Murphys-Talk-Latest-Album-Bruce-Springsteen-021242992026935

http://itsarianadumbledore.tumblr.com/

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/11810907/?claim=s7h9y6c6hkr”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Book of the Month – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Yet again, one of my favorite young adult books is being brought to life on the big screen. This month, it’s The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

6186357Synopsis

“‘If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.’
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Jen’s Review

I read The Maze Runner forever ago, but even now, years later, I still remember how exciting, adventurous, and suspenseful it was. I also remember how I never stopped asking myself, “What the heck is going to happen next?”.

In a way, The Maze Runner reminds me of Lord of the Flies, except it has a maze, a girl, and oozing, creeping creatures that attack in the night! Oh, and there’s a tiny world-wide plague that gives people zombie-like symptoms, which makes things even more tense and crazy.

I will warn you: if you decide to read The Maze Runner, then you should prepare yourself to read its sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. There are way too many unsolved mysteries at the end of book one to feel fully satisfied. But, that’s okay. As a whole (yes, I’ll admit, there are some ups and downs to all three books), this is an entertaining series that’s full of action and intrigue. And, in my opinion, they’re totally worth reading.

Mazerunner_minhoquoteSo what are you waiting for? Run out and read The Maze Runner before the movie hits theaters on September 19th!

Jen’s Rating 

5 Star

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for The Maze Runner. Prepare to hold your breath for the next two minutes!

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

Related Articles

Get Your Heart Rate Up With The Official “Maze Runner” Trailer

THE MAZE RUNNER MOVIE IS COMING

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Photo credits: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6186357-the-maze-runner?from_search=true

http://www.teen.com/2014/08/07/movies/books-turned-movies-second-half-of-2014/attachment/maze-runner-thomas-running/

http://giphy.com/gifs/ColbXXtLhOz0k

http://mazerunner.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mazerunner_minhoquote.jpg

http://wifflegif.com/tags/202690-read-the-book-gifs

Music Monday – Somethin’ Bad – Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert

Welcome to Music Monday! Yes, I know it’s not Monday, but I was out of town yesterday, so I’m breaking the rules…Yeah, I’m rebellious like that.

 

writing-to-musicThis past weekend I went to Aspen for the JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience. And it was awesome! Not only did I have a great time with my mom and sister, but I was able to kick back, relax, and bask in some beautiful Colorado scenery while listening to one of my favorite musicians, Carrie Underwood.

10649850_10101749910627063_7135234221426138795_n

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10639534_10101749910537243_1052369699624072132_nTo be honest, I’m not a huge concert fan. I always seem to get stuck next to the drunk idiot dancing, screaming, and grabbing at everyone around them while exhaling fumes of cigarettes and beer (Grrrrr…and BARF!). But the JAS music festival was surprisingly organized and tamed. It had a pleasant family/community vibe to it, and those who were on the crazier side kept to themselves and respected the rest of us.

It’s the best concert experience I’ve ever had.

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Me and my favorite beta reader–my mom!
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My sister bundled up and ready for the concert!

As for Carrie Underwood’s performance, it was amazing! Upbeat, energetic, entertaining. My sister wrote down all of the songs she performed to make a CD later, and she counted 22 by the end of the night. That’s crazy! Carrie Underwood definitely doesn’t waste time during her concerts. She sings her booty off.

I also have to give Carrie Underwood extra props for handling Aspen’s high altitude. Only once during the show did she appear winded. It happened during the early part of the night. She made a joke about the altitude before trying to set up the next song. Just a few breathless words in she stopped, laughed, and turned to her band. “Oh, forget the setup,” she panted. “Let’s just do this.” It was funny. And totally understandable. I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life and I can tell you: it’s not easy to breathe here, especially if you’re not used to it. In fact, I’ve heard most artists who come to town need oxygen tanks to get them through their performances.

15717227-standardNow, although I love all of Carrie Underwood’s songs, there were two I couldn’t stop listening to during the four-hour drive home yesterday. Both gave me oodles of inspiration for my manuscript: “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Somethin’ Bad” .

I flipped a coin and went with “Somethin’ Bad”, Carrie Underwood’s latest hit with country star, Miranda Lambert.

Carrie-Underwood-Miranda-Lambert-Somethin-Bad-Video_2014-06-24_18-12-10This song has so much energy and attitude, it makes me want to stand up and dance around with a “Whatcha ya lookin’ at punk?” expression. Don’t worry, I don’t do that…Well, unless I’m alone and nobody can mock me for acting like an idiot 😉 But, seriously, I love taking the badass emotions I feel while listening to this song and pouring them into my characters. It makes writing their rebellious, “whatever” moments easier, more enjoyable, and a lot of fun.

I also love the lyrics, “…somethin’ bad about to happen”. I’ve been working on some of the climatic chapters in my book recently, and “somethin’ bad about to happen” is definitely a theme. There’s lots of suspense, lots of dread, and lots of “dun, dun, dun”.

So, if you’re looking for a song that’s full of attitude, check out “Somethin’ Bad” by Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert!

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://photos.syracuse.com/post-standard/2014/08/2014_nys_fair_concert_carrie_underwood_7.html

http://popdust.com/2014/06/24/carrie-underwood-miranda-lambert-somethin-bad-music-video-teaser/