Friday, July 29, 2011

Musical Stories 5: Chick Lit

Apologies for being quiet this week. My house is upside down as we change rooms around and turn the junk room into another bedroom. It's taking longer than I thought so I might be missing for a few days next week too. If I take a while to get to your blog, I'm sorry, but I will get there. I have to take a lot of breaks from lugging furniture around and I keep sneaking looks at a few blogs at a time :) Please bear with me, normal service will be resumed as soon as all the right furniture is back in the right rooms, and someone has come to move the sofa off my driveway.

This week, the theme for musical genres is chick lit. You don't know how tempted I was to include I will survive, but I resisted the urge! The songs I've picked don't all have 'happy endings' as such, but if you think of them as the first half of the book, they would all make great plots.

Number one is such a fun song. It was so so hard to pick just one track from the wonderful Kirsty MacColl that I cheated slightly, in that she wrote and recorded track number three too. In the interests of diversity though, I've picked someone else singing it. Kirsty was the same age as I am now when she was killed saving her child from a speedboat. I won't go into it, it's on Wikipedia if you're interested, but the world lost a great talent that day.

Number two is beautiful. I think of the story as really being about the person who's singing the song, not the person she's singing about. How many of us have had to watch a friend make a mistake, knowing all we can do is pick them up when they fall?

I picked number three because how can I have chick lit week without mentioning shoes? As I said before, this is another of Kirsty's songs but the person performing it here was new to me. Be warned, the girl is hawt!

Next week's genre is War. Yes, I may be expanding into sub genres but let's keep that to ourselves shall we? :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Musical Stories 4: Literary

Sorry I'm late with this today. I had a 'little nap' that lasted seven hours!

This week's genre is literary fiction. When choosing for today, I wanted songs with beautiful lyrics. There is still a story there, of course; but with these songs it's as much about the beauty of the words as what they mean.

Number one seemed to me to be an obvious choice for this category. I'm still not quite sure I understand exactly what this is about, but I know what I think it means and that's what's important. In the interest of bringing you something you might not have heard before, I very nearly gave you the Barbra Streisand version. However, much as I like her, there's only one version of this song for me, and this is it.

Number two was suggested some time ago by SBJones. I hadn't heard this version before, but I love it and think it's perfect literary material. He's suggested a few great songs, and I'm trying to find categories to work some of them in :)

Number three is by someone who might be my favourite artist of all time. It's very difficult to choose one from him as I think many of his songs fall into the 'literary' category. I chose this one because I think that, while on the surface it seems quite simple, the imagery in the words is beautiful. Sorry, it's one of those 'album cover' videos but I have to take what I can find!

I hope you enjoy these. Next week's genre is chick-lit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's more to fear than fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ( Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

We all know that quote. If FDR was around today, his words would be the leading sound bite on every news bulletin. But, you know what? I disagree. There's a whole lot more to fear than fear itself.

On Monday, Chantele Sedgwick at My Writing Bug wrote a post about fear. There was a line in it that particularly resonated with me.

“I'll always have fears no matter what part of my journey I'm in.”

Years ago, when I was trying to get pregnant, my biggest fear was that it wouldn't happen. That fear was realised and my husband and I went through IVF. The only thing I had to worry about then was the treatment working. It did. Worry over, right?

Of course not. The first three months of pregnancy are the most dangerous. I could stop being scared once I got past that, not before. Except then there was the rest of the pregnancy, the premature births, intensive care, the fear of cot death, vaccination side-effects, and then...and then...right up to the present day and a whole new set of fears I have about my teenage daughters.

Yesterday I sent my Mum an email which ended with the line 'I'm forty-one years old Mum, stop worrying.' I got a response back asking 'at what age will you stop worrying about the girls?'

Okay, score one for my Mother.

Before I was pregnant, I really believed that at some point in the Motherhood process I would stop worrying. Ha! Just like as a writer I once believed that all I had to worry about was getting the first draft complete; but once I'd done that I had a new fear. What if I can't revise it well enough? That's where I am right now. Chantele's fear right now is of success. I bet I'll be scared of that too. Right after I've finished being scared of not finding an agent, not finding a publisher, not getting a release date and then...and then...

“I'll always have fears no matter what part of my journey I'm in.”

I understand this. I bet most of us, if we're honest, understand it. Not just about our writing, but about many things in life. That's okay. It's fine to be frightened, to have fear. Life can be scary.

What's important is how we react to that fear. We can wrap our kids up in cotton wool, or never let anyone else read our work. Or we can be frightened but, as Chantele says, learn how to deal with it and believe in ourselves. In other words, get on with living.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free books from nice people

I want to share some competitions with you today, but before I do I'd like to mention a 'just for fun' contest that Krista at I Take the Pen started a few weeks ago. Every Thursday she posts an opening line or paragraph for you to finish in the comments. It's fun, and good practice for those of you who like to write flash fiction. I made it onto her hall of fame this week, yay! She also tells me she's going to use one of my musical stories to write something linking the three songs together, so I'm going to hold her to that. (Okay I'm not, because that would be mean, but I think it's a great idea).

Now, who would like free books? Or Amazon vouchers? Well sadly I can't offer you any at the moment but I can do the next best thing and that's to point you in the direction of people who are:

Over at The Story, Claudia Moser is offering an Amazon gift card for her very first giveaway.You have until July 31st to enter this one. I know she'd love to see you, so why not go and say hello?

Medeia Sharif's début YA novel, Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. is being released this Summer. (It has a cupcake on the cover, you guys!) Also, next month her blog is two years old. She's celebrating by offering an autographed copy of her novel, another book of your choice from Elevensies, a group of YA and children's début authors, and a swag-pack made up of promotional material from the elevensies authors. There are three sets of these prizes on offer and this one closes on August 12th.

As well as her own, Medeia has a link to another giveaway involving the elevensies. The 2011bookfeast is giving away 3 separate packs of books. This one runs until August 31st and there will be another giveaway in the Winter. There's also a whole list of their authors, and I've already found some more new blogs to follow :)

ETA: I'm sorry for not checking the small print earlier. The bookfeast contest is open to US and Canada residents, (including overseas military installations), only.

One more for you. This one ends on July 25th so go for it if you're interested! Over at My Writers Craze the prizes on offer for first place are Divergent by Veronica Roth, Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. As well as that, the prize includes a $50 Amazon gift certificate AND a critique of your query and partial. As if that wasn't enough, there are also second and third prizes too!

I've linked to these competitions because they are from blogs I like and follow, (although I was lucky enough to start following one the day she announced the giveaway which was very nice timing!) I thought it might be a nice way of introducing people to other people who might not know each other yet. Share the love, that's what I say :)

Good luck to you if you decide to enter any or all of these!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Musical Stories 3: Crime

This week it's the crime genre. I tried to stay away from the obvious, so no Bonnie and Clyde, or Ma Baker. Two of these songs have been inspired by real life events (I don't know about track two).

I wanted to pick another track by Nick Cave, that you might not have heard of, but most of them are over six minutes long so you get this one. Track three is six minutes long and i think one is enough :)

I hope you enjoy this week's choices. Next week's genre will be literary fiction, should be interesting :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm a winner!

Apologies for the late posting but I've been a bit poorly this week. Nothing more serious than a heavy cold, but unfortunately Techno caught it, whereupon it mutated into that most deadly of strains, man flu. I try to steer away from clichés – you know, what with trying to be a writer and all – but honestly, that man is nothing but a walking cliché right now.

So, enough of the excuses, on to more interesting things. Like the fact that I won a competition.

Jami Gold at Paranormal Author had a prize draw to celebrate her one year blogiversary, and I won. Yay! What's really great is that I get to choose the prize (within reason of course, I don't think she'll spring for an African safari for me and 45 of my closest friends, sorry guys).

I'm dithering between a 3000 word in depth critique, and a 25,000 word beta read. My new writing project has stalled right out of the starting blocks and the revisions for Looking for Lola (well, I couldn't keep on calling it Joe and the Angels, could I?) are not going well. So much so, that I pretty much haven't moved forward at all in the last week or so. That's why I'm so thrilled about winning this competition. It's motivation; a deadline, if you like. I definitely work better under pressure.

Normal service will be resumed next week when Techno will either be better or buried alive in the garden (right now, I'm not too bothered which). In the meantime there's this. You may have seen it, it's been around for a while but even if you have, take another look. I bet you smile!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Musical Stories 2: YA

This week's Musical Stories are YA. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this is last week's post that started the series).

Number one is not technically a 'story' but it screams 'YA' at me every time I hear it, so let's cheat and call it a character study :)

Number two is simply because not all YA stories are dark, whatever some newspapers might think; although it doesn't have the happy ending I always thought it did :( (PS sorry about the ad – but you can skip it. It was the only one with the official video).

For number three, I was going to pick one from last week's comments, but then I found this video. I'm a Buffy freak and I thought this was fun (and no, the song has nothing to do with the series), so I'll even forgive the singers for info dumping the back story ;-)

Next week we're moving onto the crime genre. I think I'm going to have trouble choosing just three!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I've got a new hobby

Before I start today's post I need to point you in the direction of the lovely Meagan Spooner's blog. It's her birthday and to celebrate, she's buying one of her lucky readers a book. Someone needs to explain to Meagan how birthdays work, but go and see her anyway and recommend an awesome book or two. I suggested two fantasy series. One of them was the series I'm currently reading (as recommended by Techno when first we met). It's the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy by Tad Williams. All I'm going to say about it is that it's fantasy, of the 'Swords and Sorcery' type and up til now it's been awesome. I've only read The Dragonbone Chair so far. The others are Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower. This last is split into two parts, Siege and Storm in the UK, and parts 1 and 2 in the US. Techno tells me that the books just get better and better so I can't wait.

There is a connection to my new hobby, I promise. This series I'm reading, along with The Pendragon Cycle I read before it, a fantasy series by Stephen R Lawhead, based on Arthurian legend, made me want to create my own fantasy world. I can see you rolling your eyes and saying 'big deal, all writers do that'. I've done it myself, plenty of times; but this is different. This time it's not a means to an end. I've no thoughts of writing a novel at the end of it. As much as I love fantasy, there's no way I could write a good story. I want to go way more in depth than I ever have before. I've started writing a list of things I want to know about, education, religion, politics, food, transport, entertainment, weather conditions and so much more. It's going to be something I share with the girls. Diva will be creating the maps and drawing the races of people based on my descriptions, and Blue is going to help me create names and languages. Even Techno has joined in, discussing different ways of building dwellings and water irrigation systems. (Don't ask, we know how to have a good time !)

I can see this taking months, as we have to do all that for each race we invent. At the end of it, hopefully, we'll have a fully realised world (or country, at least), populated with people we know everything about, in a land that holds no secrets for us. And for what purpose? Absolutely nothing, except that we can! I've never created a fantasy world before, most of my previous world building has been for the SciFi genre so this is something new. I'm going to try not to spend too much time on it, my 'real' writing has to come first, but everybody needs a hobby right?

So what do you think? Is this a pointless exercise? Is it weird (as one friend suggested) that the whole family are getting involved and there's going to be no 'pay-off' at the end, or is it worth it (as I pointed out to her) just for the sheer fun of it? Have any of you ever created a whole fantasy world? Anyone got any tips?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Musical Stories 1: SciFi

I had such fun picking out music last week that I've decided to make it a regular Friday thing. I had a great idea for a 'series'. At least, I thought it was great idea, I may change my mind if I run out of ideas! (Also, how many times can I use the word 'ideas' in one paragraph?)

So, here's my awesome idea. Each week, I'm going to pick a story genre and choose three songs that I think fit that genre. I'm going to try to choose a mix of songs; some classics, some you may not have heard of and probably some just plain cheesy, but I hope you enjoy them, and maybe hear something new. Every week, I'll tell you what next week's genre is going to be, so if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know. Next week is going to be YA. I only have one so far, but it's an amazing one and perfect for the genre, so let's hope I can find two more in the next seven days :)

This week is (as you can tell by the title), SciFi. There were loads I wanted to use, but I went for these three because, in my opinion, they all show different aspects of the SciFi genre and they might be ones you haven't heard for a while, which is why – as brilliant as it is – David Bowie's Space Oddity didn't make it. I hope you enjoy. (There's no video for the middle one, because the embed thingy is disabled on the official video on YouTube, sorry).