Music Monday: Skylar Grey – Love the Way You Lie

It’s my day to post at the Dojo! Hop over there and see about going through the motions—in a good way!

I know you know the Rhianna/Eminem version… but have you heard the original? It’s gorgeous. And apparently about an abusive relationship with the music industry, which makes it much more interesting than the “I’m sticking around for because my man is mine” whatever story the more popular version tells.

Just think about that. Think about how packaging changes the way a story is told, especially with something as subjective to the reader/listener as a song is. Some may say that as a writer you have to make your “point” clear to your audience. Others would say just the opposite: you can’t make your version real for the audience, what matters is their account.

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle on this. I don’t think that I can write a story about one thing and have it secretly be about something else. Not intentionally, by any means. I don’t demand for readers to see  the story exactly as I see it either, though. I want readers to get a chance to come to their own conclusions about certain characters, actions, etc.

What do you think?

Five Things Friday: Five Awesome Things About NiNoCon

What are your plans for next Saturday? Have you heard of NiNoCon? Or of writing ninjas? Did you know that there are writing ninjas that will have a writer’s conference on February 4th? It’s going to be seriously awesome, and here are five reasons why:

1) THIS CONFERENCE IS FREE. There is absolutely no cost to participate!

2) THIS CONFERENCE IS ONLINE. Have trouble getting to writer’s conferences because you live in the elbow of the middle of nowhere? As long as you have an internet connection, this conference is for you! And hey, you can show up in your PJ’s and your curlers, we won’t tell. (We won’t even know!)

3) THIS CONFERENCE IS INNOVATIVE. The publishing world is changing, and this conference is going to teach you all the hows and whys of “nontraditional” ways of publishing. If you’re even considering self-publishing, this conference is for you.

4) THIS CONFERENCE HAS CREDENTIALS. There is a panel of experts and and authors who will be available for you to pick their brains on all things writerly, bloggerly, or self-publishy. Thy all want to help YOU. For free! That’s how awesome this conference is.

5) THIS CONFERENCE HAS PRIZES. Oh, did I mention? There are going to be giveaways. How do I know this? Well, because I’m donating one! A full-manuscript edit from Type Set, Inc is going to go to one lucky participant.

So mark your calenders, ladies and gents! There’s no need to pre-register for this event, just head over to www.ninjaswrite.com. The more the merrier!

Tuesday Talk: The Art of the Possible

- G.K. Chesterton

My title comes from a song in Evita, which calls “politics” the art of the possible. I think writing is really the art of the possible, though. Even if we like to slip into impossible once in a while. Because really, we deal in possibility. If _______ happens, what could possibly be the result?

What would it be like if an elven-year-old boy got a letter saying he was really a wizard? If a teenage girl saw her younger sister picked to fight to the death? If a boy turned into a wolf when the weather got cold?

Maybe these things aren’t likely to happen—but that’s not the point. The point is, in order for fiction to work, the reaction has to be real. The consequences have to ring true. Every character, every place, every society has to have an echo of truth to it, or it will not read as true. It will not hit home for the reader with the force that it’s supposed to. Science fiction has to be based on science. Fiction has to be based on fact.

Now, I’m not saying that all books have to be autobiographical, of course, but that people can tell the difference between something a writer understands, and something they’re just hoping will sound good. Someone who’s experienced pain and loss can tell if your character is really feeling pain and loss, or if you’re just hoping they’ll take your word for it. Someone who’s fallen head-over-heels in love will know if the connection between your main characters is there, or if you’re only hoping that it is.

There’s a reason why people say write what you know, and a reason why they say that writing is like opening a vein—people want stories that feel lived, because each of your readers have lived, and they want to feel like your book is another life they can slip into. Whether that new life is something familiar to them or something they can only dream about doesn’t really matter. It just has to feel possible.

Does your book offer that?

Music Monday: Somedays by Regina Spektor

“Somedays” by Regina Spektor

Background: I love Regina. I really, really do.

Favorite Line: “They’re so much stronger than the friends you try to keep/by your side.”

My song history: I found this when I was immersing myself in as much Regina Spektor as I could lay my ears on, and this is one that kept coming back to mind.

What drew me in: I love this idea that a day can work outside of you and against you. That some days “come and go like someone else’s days/They come and leave you behind someone else’s face/And it’s harsher than yours.” That last bit is SO key for me. Because you know it’s true… there are days when you say things and you react sharply to other people, and you know it’s not you, but you couldn’t stop yourself in the moment.

For my writing: This song is for my dear Savannah. She’s a character in Jethro that I know a lot of people won’t like. She’s gorgeous, untouchable, and she rules Jethro High with an iron will. But Savannah is also vulnerable. She’s been hiding behind the mask of perfection so long that when things start to get out of control she just about loses it, and she tries her best to make enemies of the very people that should have her back—she just can’t feel comfortable with the fact that they also know all her secrets.

Five Things Friday: Five Things I’ve Learned…

So, as I’ve mentioned, The Mr. and I recently moved into a small apartment complex that we’re fixing up and going to be renting out and managing. We’ve been here a couple of weeks, and been on a tight budget, so things still aren’t up to rent-out-able states (this is a fairly old apartment complex!) but I have learned a few things along the way, and I thought I’d share a couple with you for today’s Friday Five.

1) VINEGAR is basically the most amazing thing in the world. It’s the best cleanser you didn’t know you already own. It kills most mold, bacteria and germs. PLUS it’s chemical-free and the smell dissipates completely after drying. You can clean anything with vinegar (seriously, you can even use it in your laundry instead of bleach, it’s a natural whitener). If you can’t get something off with vinegar alone, pour some baking soda on it—you get an instant scouring solution. Cheap and chemical free. You’ve got to love that.

2) (Somewhat less informative) Fitting into size-down jeans (even with your sweatpants on under them!) is slightly less exciting when the first time you squat in them, you split the inner-thigh. :: blasé face::

3) You CAN find time to write, even if the world seems to be falling down on your head. (So long as you have someone to share your responsibility with you.) (Probably even if you don’t, but I can’t claim personal knowledge to that!)

4) Sometimes things sell well on your Etsy site when you literally do not have time to touch it with a ten-foot-pole for three weeks straight. (I suspect this is partially due to Etsy’s new “relevance” search—when you looked for things on Etsy, results used to be itemed by “most recently listed”)

5) (More for me than for you) I really can’t complain about never winning a Kindle off of those big joint bloghops when I know full well that I’d rather have a Nook. And I do sometimes win books. So I really can’t complain. (Again not really relevant, ah well!)

Back to the grindstone for me, then. Or should I say, back to oven cleaning. Oh, joy.

Tuesday Talk: Momentum

Since NaNoWriMo was interrupted by a cross-state move for me, I’ve decided to try my had at JaNoWriMo—the same basic idea, but in January instead of November. I managed to write over 10,000 words in the first eight days of 2012. I haven’t managed to write over 1000 everyday, as I’d hoped, but I have tried to at the very least, keep up my momentum.

Something that’s helped me immensely in this, has been the Pomodoro Technique.

It’s so simple that it seems a little mundane:

-Use a timer.

-Work for 25 minutes straight.

-Take a 5 minute break.

-Rinse & Repeat.

It is that simple. And it works. At least, it works for me.

The timer is essential, though. You can’t just look down at the time on your computer screen and decide to write for the next 25 minutes… you need something ticking down that you can SEE. Or that will ding and tell you when you’ve run out of time. I personally either use the Pomodroido app on Android, or this free internet timer.

I’ve been getting an average of 1600+ words in an hour and a half. Which for me is A LOT. Of course, finding the hour and a half each day is a little trying. But the results have been worth it for me when I can scrape up the time!

Music Monday: “Let Go” by Imogen Heap (piano solo)

“Let Go” by Imogen Heap (piano solo)

Background: You probably heard this song back eight years ago (was it really eight years ago?!) on commercials for the movie Garden State, but if you haven’t heard Imogen Heap play “Let Go” solo on the piano… well then, you really haven’t heard the song.

My song history: I first heard this song (or a piano solo version, rather) a couple of years ago, late, late at night on an Arizona radio station after a long day of driving. I was in the car with my dad and we were driving to Texas, so we had an even longer way to go. It was past midnight, probably closer to one, and somehow in the drivel of radio music, this gorgeous, ephemeral version of an old favorite. I had found the Frou Frou version about a year before Garden State‘s soundtrack made Imogen Heap a household name to any one remotely plugged into the music scene (which I’m not really remotely, anymore… but you know, you have to be in college, in order to survive).  We found rest at a cheap hotel just moments after the last notes of the song ended on the radio… but my goodness did I want more. Of course we’d stopped at a hotel that had no wifi whatsoever, so it was weeks before I could even look it up on the internet and indulge in it a little more.

What drew me in: Well, really the slightest hint of Imogen Heap being involved in anything perks my ears up. (I have to admit, part of the reason I finally consented to watch the Shrek movies was because I knew her cover of “I Need a Hero” was for the credits of the second one). But I especially love recordings of her live stuff. She’s a musical genius, flat out. I’ve never been disappointed with a single thing I’ve heard by her. This has been true as long as I’ve known of her… which as I hinted, dates back to when I was a junior in high school.

For my writing: I turn to Imogen when I don’t know who else to turn to. Her music is always by turns soothing, exciting, challenging, and utterly confounding—especially when it comes to the things she can do with a mixer machine. If I want emotion to burn or linger or chime in just the right way, Imogen Heap is often slipping through my headphones, and this song is one of my absolute favorites.