Inspiration Through Music: Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto

I’ve been introduced to so much wonderful music in the last few months, particularly things in the ska genre, which I had largely been disinterested in before. Not sure why. But I wholeheartedly regret that now. There are so, so many great bands in that genre that have been inspirations for the seeds of stories I’d like to work on. Several of these ideas have come from the works of Streetlight Manifesto and consequently, Toh Kay (the band’s lead singer) who has done acoustic covers of many of the songs. While I’d love to do an Inspiration Through Music post for just Toh Kay’s acoustic covers, you can’t really focus on him without also talking about Streetlight Manifesto. So, today’s Inspiration Through Music will be a bit of a split between the two of them.

Tomas Kalnoky AKA Toh Kay, is a Czech born American musician. While his music with Streetlight Manifesto has a much more upbeat, harder, and motivated feel to it, his solo albums are much smoother and often times, reveal a sadder tone to them. It’s amazing how one can listen to the original Streetlight Manifesto version of a song and then the Toh Kay version and feel as though they’ve listened to two completely different songs. But I love this. And I love that certain songs can be interpreted in both lights. I have a couple of songs from Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto that are on a playlist for my latest project (both versions of the same songs) and I’ve found that both work incredibly well for different parts of the story.

My latest project takes place in a fictional beach-side resort town where a vampire (name hasn’t been decided yet) is caught in the moral implications of his lifestyle and the jobs he’s often paid to do, the innocent people that are affected by it, and the dissolution of his own humanity the longer he does it. Toh Kay’s music speaks more to this character’s inner struggles, while Streetlight Manifesto’s songs are a bit more on point with action scenes integral to the plot. Because while I’ve described what this book is about in a deep and kind of nebulous way, it really is supposed to be more of a horror comedy and the playlist for it is chock full of other ska classics. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its serious moments though and I can get inside my main character’s head more when I’m listening to those pieces by Toh Kay.

So, today, I’m going to share with you a few of the Toh Kay and Streetlight Manifesto songs that I have added to my playlist along with a couple of generic scenes to illustrate what I’m thinking when I listen to them. Enjoy!

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Horror-Fail Friday Part 2

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**Horror-Fail Friday is a blog where I go back and share some of my early writing with you and include my reactions in italics alongside the unedited document. When I say “unedited”, it means I’ve left in spelling errors, poor grammar, and ridiculous plot devices. Be prepared to delve into the horror that is middle school age writing.**

Today, we’re continuing with chapter 2 of “Rising to Escape” a dumb techno thriller that I tried to write back in 6th or 7th grade. So far, police officer Samantha Bynes, recovering from the death of her partner (who was hit by a motorcycle), discovers that the nuclear missile codes have been stolen via fax from the police department. I’d repeat that sentence but I have a feeling that certain parts of my brain will shut down if I do. Due to the idiocy of a rookie cop, they discover that the thief snuck in through the roof. Upon realizing this, Samantha concludes she is a useless human being and cannot do anything right. Now, onto our new character…who’s life is somehow worse than Samantha’s.

On we go.

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Inspiration Through Music: Peter Mulvey

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If you’ve been following the Monstrum Chronicles blog for some time now, you’ll know that I love discovering new music and writing alongside said music. Recently, my boyfriend introduced me to a musician whose style can only be described as part Ray LaMontagne, part phenomenal guitar, and part…sunshine and coffee. Have you ever listened to someone sing and been able to practically see them smile through their voice? Peter Mulvey is this musician.

I was lucky enough to meet him at a recent performance in Hallowell at the beginning of June. He’s one of those people with a charming personable presence, the kind who can entertain with word and song and that you can never grow tired of listening to. He’s become my go to for car rides, down time in the house, and yes, even for certain story ideas. As I’ve been thinking more and more about starting a sequel for Night Time, Dotted Line (my dramedy), I’ve found that Mulvey’s voice resonates with both of the main characters, Calleigh and Spencer, well; particularly with Calleigh though.

Today, I’m going to share a few of Peter Mulvey’s songs with you along with some of the images that his songs conjure in my mind. This is a fun little exercise that you can do in your own spare time. Just take a pencil and paper, play to the songs below, and see what comes to mind when you listen. Enjoy!

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Horror Fail Friday (NEW) Part 1

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Admit it: If you are a writer, you have old material, likely from when you were a kid or you were just beginning your burgeoning career in the literary world. After some time, you happen upon these old papers or files and give them a nostalgic look-over, maybe to see how far you’ve come, maybe to remember that first spark that excited you about writing. So, you read.

And…

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…You realize just how bad your writing was.

Horror-Fail Friday is a blog where I go back and share some of my early writing with you and include my reactions in italics alongside the unedited document. When I say “unedited”, it means I’ve left in spelling errors, poor grammar, and ridiculous plot devices. Be prepared to delve into the horror that is middle school age writing.

Our new story is “Rising To Escape”, an unfinished techno-thriller which I wrote in seventh grade, when I had untamed curly afro hair, zero social skills, and many a tie-dyed t-shirt. I’m going into this blind; I don’t actually remember this story, nor what it was about. I have a terrible feeling about it though, like there’s going to be something in it that will give me a full-body cringe. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Spring Updates (Thumbs Up!)

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted.

This time has not passed idly. While I haven’t stuck to my New Year’s resolution about blogging more consistently, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping to everything else on it. And I’m proud of myself for those things. Life feels as though it’s on an upswing at the moment and I’m not going to complain about it (even as I suffer from a particularly debilitating head cold).

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Instead of apologizing like I have many times over, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve accomplished/started over the last few months or so.

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Cooking Adventures: Preheating The Oven Like A Boss

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Hello! Remember back in January when I said I was hoping to write all kinds of new Cooking Adventures this year? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking new and exciting things in my kitchen, it just means that not all of them have been worthy tales to tell on the blog. And I’ve been busy; super busy. But I’m not going to get into all that business now. Instead, I’ll tell you the horrifying tale of trying to make this blasted grapefruit pound cake.

Now, the first thing to keep in mind is that this pound cake is delicious and was well worth all the effort it took to put it together. I’d found the recipe on Pinterest not too long ago and was interested in the idea of making some kind of dessert/breakfast crossover that didn’t have any chocolate. My hope was to give my parents some of it and neither of them eat chocolate.

The original recipe comes from FakeGinger. Thank you to Amanda for sharing the recipe with everyone.

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Inspiration Through Music: Ben Webb

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This week, I had the pleasure of listening to the ultra-talented Ben Webb, a performer whom I’d never heard of before, but whose music instantly reminded me of several other artists. Webb’s music is dynamic, multi-faceted, and speaks of people’s many transitions through life.

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That Time I Accidentally Stabbed My Hand While Chipping Stale Brownies Out Of A Baking Pan a.k.a. New Cooking Adventures

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Don’t let the title fool you; this entry in itself is not a Cooking Adventure yet. But I have toyed with the possibility of bringing back video Cooking Adventures this year and the desire to do it is slowly overtaking me. One of the biggest reasons that I didn’t try to do them last year were because I was in the process of buying a new house and since I’ve moved into said house, I’ve been coming to grips with all of its various quirks. The kitchen is one of these.

It’s a beautiful kitchen. There are open beams, a large window overlooking the lawn, plenty of counter space, and lots of light and warmth…in the summer. In the winter, it has become the coldest room in the house due to a lack of insulation and the fact that it was an added room to the 1890 cape. So, in order to ensure that it’s warm enough for me to spend time in there, I’ve had to put up an insulated curtain over the big, light-bringing window and put on a space-heater. Filming in such a dark room isn’t very easy.

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Inspiration Through Music: Moonlight Original Soundtrack

I’m often drawn to the understated elegant soundtracks. They don’t sound grandiose; they don’t sound imperial or adventurous or over-the-top. The smallest nuances in how the individual tracks are composed, the development in the pieces that grow along with the characters and plot… These are the soundtracks I hunger for.

Recently, I found myself checking out the nominees for best original soundtrack for the Golden Globes. Of course, “La La Land” was the winner of the award with its whimsical, jazzy soundtrack. It’s something fun and different and puts people in a good mood when they listen to it. It’s a phenomenal soundtrack and for cooking or hanging around the house, it’s a joy to listen to. But for writing…I look for the darker more serious soundtracks. This is why I was immediately enamored by Nicholas Britell’s score for the Golden Globe best drama motion picture winner, “Moonlight”.

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