It occurred to me recently that I have never fully explained why write these blogs. Sure, I love discovering new music and sharing my discoveries with people. I like to write and listen to them. But there is something more to it, something I hope you writers and readers will appreciate. I once remember looking at another author’s playlist of songs that she listened to while writing her book years ago. When she got to a certain song on her list, she put in parentheses next to it “Generic action music”. I remember being extremely annoyed by that. Not sure if it was a blast against the writing of action scenes in general or if it was against that genre of music (in this case it was Fat Boy Slim). The author has since changed the list, removing the random note. And while this author shall remain nameless (*cough*Stephanie Meyer *cough* *cough*), I would really like to take a moment and focus on just how important action scenes are in the books that require them and how a certain song can really fit in with the scene you have in mind.
When I listen to music as I’m writing, I’m not simply using it as background noise. It’s more than just a distraction from the world going on around me. I tend to visualize the scenes in my novels and, often, I will do this to the tune from a song whether it is instrumental or vocal. There are certain songs that I can close my eyes to and see everything that the characters are doing in time with the music. I suppose it could be seen as a form of synesthesia, although I wouldn’t say I’m seeing a specific color while listening to a specific song or hearing a specific voice. This generally happens when I’m writing an action scene more often than not.
COOKING ADVENTURE #93: Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
This has quite possibly got to be the miracle of all Cooking Adventures I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much go wrong with a recipe and yet…turn out to be edible in the end. Literally everything I touched during this managed to go terribly. And what’s more…I was dictating most of what happened to a friend whilst doing it. It was my first “Cooking Adventure Live” attempt…and it proves that any outside distraction can have disastrous consequences. Well, maybe not “disastrous”. After all, they were edible in the end, ha ha. And they lasted me practically a week! I shall now dictate to you absolutely everything that happened during the Great Enchilada Meltdown. Be Prepared.
When I find a band that I can really get in sync with and start writing to easily, it’s essentially a giant celebration. I am a fan of many different kinds of music and I write a lot of very different genres, ranging from comedy to horror. Just about a month ago, I was working on a side project from my Monstrum Chronicles horror series in order to kind of recharge my writing batteries. Sometimes taking a break and working on a fun and utterly different project makes you able to see things with a clear head once again. And that’s just what it did for me. While working on that project, I came across this drop-dead gorgeous band called Stateless and a bountiful collection of songs that I’ve had on repeat for…a while now.
Stateless is an English electronic band that was founded in 2002. These guys have thought-provoking lyrics matched with some great beats and incredibly balanced harmonies. What really stuck out at me were the levels of beauty and grittiness that songs peaked at, able to sound really dark and tragic but also hopeful and lovely. Got to say that they are probably one of my favorite bands now. I absolutely love their stuff. It got so that I listened to them not only for the break story but also for Memento Mori and my apocalyptic novel, Cold Walls. I was thankfully able to include my four favorite songs from them in today’s Inspiration Through Music, along with what scenes played through my head as I listened to them. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
COOKING ADVENTURE #92: Blackened Salmon with Mango Avacado Salsa
Let’s be clear: this winter didn’t want to end. It was/is clinging to Maine like a bug clings to the outside of a speeding car, air rushing against it. That’s how much we wanted winter to go. It’s like it was trying against all odds to stay and make us miserable. Now that I’ve made my point, I’ll also make the point that because of this weather, my diet has consisted primarily of delicious comfort food…lots of pizza, pasta, and of course, chocolate. And that has made several pair of my pants feel just a tad too tight for comfort. So, I decided that I was going to try and get back on a healthy track and start preparing some food that was better for me overall. On the list of foods that are fabulous for you: salmon, avacado, and mango. And wouldn’t you know it, I came across a recipe that utilizes all three. I was delighted. And admittedly, a little nervous. I hadn’t cooked fish in a long time. I hadn’t eaten salmon in practically five years. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this even if it turned out brilliantly. I like being surprised in a good way. Love it in fact.
I like listening to all kinds of music when writing. It all depends on the genre, the mood of the scene, and the characters and their chemistry in that scene. Most of all, I love it when I find a musician or band with a distinctive voice, really intriguing lyrics, and a great melody. Several years ago, I was given a taste of the work from a band called October Project. I had only ever heard one of their songs but I fell in love with the lead singer’s voice within moments. Through the years, I returned to that song, listening to it for several projects here and there. Only recently, was I introduced to Mary Fahl once again, now not a part of October Project and singing some fabulous songs, sounding as amazing as ever. I even missed seeing her by several hours. HOURS. Had I known that she was in the state doing a concert, I would have booked it down there to catch it. Unfortunately, I missed it. But several of my other writer friends saw her and are as equally in awe of her talent as I am.
And you were expecting Honey Cake. Hate to disappoint… Yep. The edges are a tad blackened but honestly, how does one not immediately start salivating like a hungry hyena upon looking at that decadence? Simply one of the funnest and tastiest desserts I’ve had the pleasure of pulling off for Cooking Adventures. And while it took me close to two hours to prepare the entire thing and bake it, I’d happily do it again. I have a weakness for pie. While I’ve made many, many cakes here on Cooking Adventures, pie really is one of my favorite things, no matter what kind. So, I kind of wanted to step up the idea of just a basic apple pie and do something a bit more creative. Even if being “creative” means slaving over a hot stove for a half an hour waiting for sugar to melt. But it wasn’t just the caramel that made this pie “adventure” worthy. It was the crust. The damn basket-weave crust. I’m not a weaver of anything much less pie dough. So that…that made things interesting.
That’s right. Y’all get a special treat today. I’m posting a small, unedited portion of the upcoming third book in the Monstrum Chronicles, “Memento Mori”. Just a taste of what’s to come. Expect more madness… Just about 8 months until the release! Start counting those days!
A little over two weeks ago, I decided to rest my eyes a little from working on Book 3 of the Monstrum Chronicles and write something fun just for me. These breaks are cathartic and I’ll tell you why. Because when you have been pushing yourself to the limit on one project for so long, something that is dark and can really take a lot out of you, it’s healthy to take a step back, to not look at it for a little bit. When I come back to it, I’ll have a different view point. I’ll have a better idea of where I want to go with it. And it does work. I did this while working on one of my first books back in high school (an unpublished one). I wrote a 100 page fan-fiction (I know, I know. Don’t even start…) and after that was all out of my system, I finished up the project I’d been previously married to. So while I’ve worked on this little indulgence of mine, I’ve been listening to a lot of indie music, lots of stuff that I have previously not known about, including this brilliant band from the U.K., Daughter.
COOKING ADVENTURES #90: Chicken Parmesan and Apple Coleslaw
So, when I decided to make coleslaw alone for a Cooking Adventure, I may have been underestimating just how much of a meal it could make by itself. I mean, this coleslaw was BITCHIN’, don’t get me wrong. But once you’ve munched on it for four days straight like some kind of bovine cabbage lover, you really do start to miss eating other food. Yes. The above picture shows the coleslaw paired with a burrito. Don’t try to understand it. Just know that I needed to eat SOMETHING besides coleslaw that night. I decided that in order for this to be a really interesting adventure, I’d pair it up with my very first attempt at making Chicken Parmesan. When I really get down to the details, the coleslaw was really more of a “frolic” than an adventure. I mean, it’s cutting stuff up (unless you’re lazy like me…) and tossing it together with other stuff in a bowl. Not all that difficult. Anything involving chicken, however…instant stories to tell, old friends. Instant stories to tell.
There has always been a part of me that really wanted to write a fairytale. While I can really lose myself in fantastical elements being twisted into our every day lives as seen in The Monstrum Chronicles speculative fiction series, I’ve never actually sat down and pushed myself to try something completely in the realm of magic. Several months ago, though, I was introduced to a weird and wonderful game called Year Walk by the company Simogo for tablets and phones. The game has since now been made available on Steam. In it, an unnamed protagonist leaves his young lover and goes on his year walk, an ancient Scandinavian ritual that is supposed to help the individual foretell what will happen to them later in life. The games atmosphere is deeply unsettling, fraught with strange mythological monsters and an eerie landscape of snowy woods. The combination of images and the incredibly creepy musical score by Daniel Olsén left me with a taste in my mouth for dark folklore.