NaNoWriMo Playlist

Published November 16, 2014 by writeforabsolution

So I’m trying really hard to do NaNoWriMo this year.

I have actually tried every year since 2011. My dramatic novel “Downfall” about a young girl, MacKenzie, who’s life kind of crumbles and she has no one to rely on but herself… well, that kind of failed miserably.

Then in 2012 I did an “unofficial NaNoWriMo” in which I attempted to finish up a novel I had started in college – “Damned” about a young sorceress and her coven who battle evil. I actually did end up finishing this one! But I felt it was slightly cheating only because most of it had been written in college.

Last year in 2013 I worked on another sci-fi/fantasy novel called “Chasing Shadows” about a young alchemist’s daughter who struggles to find the truth about her father after his disappearance.

That one didn’t get finished either.

This year I am endeavoring to write a novel which has no official title yet – the working title is “Slice of Summer” but I feel like it’s really trite and a bit cliche. This project is about Levi and Leo, a pair of band-mate boyfriends who struggle with their careers, life, and love.

This novel is going… meh, fairly well. I have a lot of moments where I think I’m pretty brilliant, and then a lot of moments where I think I’m probably the most rubbish writer on the entire planet.

I tend to write a lot all at once (catching up on word goals) and then I don’t write for days and days. Then I binge write and slack… well, you get the idea. I am currently in a “slack off” phase. Well not entirely, I’ve been doing some research on topography and research on guitars. Both relevant to the novel but not necessarily each other. But I am now sitting at the computer with my “writing playlist” and limited distractions. I mean, if there was ever a time for me to watch 30 hours of cat videos it would be now. But no. I must resist.

Anyway, usually this blog is for my book reviews (Now and again I’ll share my work but I’m not about that life at the moment). I just wanted to share, instead, my playlist. When I write I’m almost always listening to music, even if it’s just hummed background when I get “in the zone”. For example, the other day I was “in a zone” and for four and a half hours I listened to the acoustic version of “Steal My Girl” by One Direction. Do you realize how many times that is? Approximately 72. 72 times I listened to the. same. song. simply because I was in a zone and didn’t even realize it had been on repeat so long.

But this novel, besides being about love, loss, life, depression, panic, and the struggle of following your heart and your dreams at the same time, it’s about music. I am… limited in my musical skills shall we say. I know a lot about music, I am very into music, but I cannot play a lick of it on any instrument in creation.. okay, I can play “Hot Cross Buns” on recorder. Champion of the world, I am. And clearly I am a Diva in my car, “do you believe in life after love!”. Ahem. Anyway. When I am writing I have music on, but with this novel it is slightly different because the characters are driven by music. They are driven by the way the words flow from their hearts into their instruments. If Levi is having a bad day he holds his guitar and releases his emotions. If he’s happy he composes cheesy rhymes while he’s dancing around the kitchen smiling like the Cheshire Cat – yes, that really did happen; and no I don’t always use such cliches, promise.

So. Because this novel deals with so many real elements and because it’s so deeply rooted in music as a form of expression, I have paid even closer attention to my “writing playlist” than I normally would have. Usually I chuck on some Muse and call it a day. Or I throw on Vivaldi and allow the music to float around my head with the words and imagery until I can regurgitate something I can call “a story”.  This time I’ve been more focused on what the lyrics are, how the tone feels, would this song make Levi happy, would this song make Leo want to jump around the apartment, would Levi have written this song in high school when he was crying over a girl, will this song foreshadow, how would Hunter react to any of these lyrics? There’s so much more I’m thinking about this time around.

So here is a working playlist for “Slice of Summer” – just felt the need to share it because honestly, I’m probably procrastinating (oh and I hyperlinked each song so you can listen if you like!)

1. Catalyst – The Gallery 

2. All I Need – Louden Swain

3. Little Fox – Justin Jones.

4. Black Widow – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora

5. Dangerous – House of Heroes

6. Loose Ends – Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters

7. Portraite of Maude – Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

8. Steal My Girl (Acoustic) – One Direction

9. Darkness Is Cheap – Gregg Swann

10. This mashup of “Centuries” and “Immortals” – Fall Out Boy

Probably the most essential song on the playlist though is:
11. The Wrecking Ball – Erick Baker

Does anyone else have a playlist for their novel this year? Do you stick to the same playlist or do you deviate?

Happy Writing!

“We Are Not Ourselves” – Matthew Thomas

Published October 29, 2014 by writeforabsolution

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“We Are Not Ourselves” follows the lifelong journey of Eileen Tumulty, raised by Irish Immigrant parents during a crucial turning point in America’s history. The novel chronicles Eileen’s journey through life, love, struggle, loss, gain, peace and turmoil.

On it’s surface “We Are Not Ourselves” the daunting 600 page bio-epic about a woman from impoverished Queens who struggles to find more in life than a third floor walk-up didn’t seem all that interesting to me to be perfectly honest. I read the novel because Misha Collins – a brilliant man whom I am quite fond of – suggested it get read by the world. So. I read it.

I had a hard time getting into the novel – I found that I very sorely disliked the protagonist. I thought she was needy, whiny, petulant at times. . . she wasn’t likable. But the more I read it the more I thought about the fact that she didn’t have to be likable because people aren’t all that likable. So I pressed on.

I have to say the introduction of Ed Leary kept my interest in the novel – Ed’s character was a lot like myself, very bare-bones and rather easy-going; whereas Eileen was very into materials and needing things to be perfect. Eileen’s character chases this elusive ideal of The American Dream whereas Ed isn’t so much like that.

I ended up becoming invested fully in the novel and finishing it rather quickly after my initial 300 pages of doubt. It had a very well done ending I believe, and unfortunately I can’t say much without essentially divulging the entire culmination of the book. I can say however that the more I think about the book in retrospect the more I grasp onto smaller parts, or even larger concepts and I think “It’s just like in that book” and I have to explain myself to whomever I am talking to.

Overall, the book just really wasn’t the genre of writing I prefer – if you’ve read my posts you know that I’m very much into Supernatural YA fiction – so for it to hold my attention at all speaks volumes as to Thomas’ ability to captivate. I do think it was well written, and I think it had a lot of honesty. There were many parts I feel were easy to identify with and there was a fair amount of heartbreaking truths.

It left me rather depressed… I’m not sure that’s the best word, but it sat heavy with me. I feel like the ending might have meant to be hopeful, but I didn’t comprehend it that way. It just made me feel…caged. It’s quite hard to explain without spoiling the entire novel. It wasn’t any darker or more poignant than any of the novels I normally read, but it was definitely more realistic and therefore harder to digest I think. But it was well written and it wasn’t a waste of time – just prepare yourself emotionally. I would recommend.

Happy reading.

The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp

Published July 9, 2014 by writeforabsolution

“The Spectacular Now” is the story of a young budding alcoholic who believes in letting life just happen and not worrying about much of anything. With his girlfriend Cassidy threatening their relationship if he doesn’t shape up, his best friend attempting to ease up on the partying, his family down his throat, Sutter takes the high road and ignores it all. Preferring to live life somewhere between buzzed and passed out. He meets Aimee one day, and things don’t so much change as evolve. He decides she’s a disaster and that it’s his duty to save her. 

Told in a spectacular narrative from Sutter Keely’s point of view this book moves. It is a beautiful collection of words into motion. It is told at a steady pace that keeps the pages turning, it is told with a dark humour and glorious realism. Sutter has just enough beauty in him to keep you feeling sympathetic, but just enough flaws to make him realistic. This book tugs on heart strings in all the best ways. It’s a true testament to literature and to human nature. I cannot properly express why you should read this book without simply saying: read this book. 

For more information about Tim Tharp or his other books visit his blog

As an aside I also did watch the movie. The movie was beautiful but terribly different. There was enough of the book in the movie that it was beautiful (direct book quotes!) and things that were cut seemed like good editing decisions. There were a few semi-trivial changes that didn’t seem to make much sense to me overall (his moms profession, the fact that he was taking algebra versus geometry etc). But the ending is completely different from the book. Both endings are great, but imply very, very different outcomes. I recommend reading the book then watching the movie and playing the “compare contrast” game. Just remember, they’re two separate mediums and deserve to be viewed and respected as such. 

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns – Chris Colfer

Published July 9, 2014 by writeforabsolution

Chris Colfer delivers an action-packed sequel to his original best selling series. (for my personal review on the first book go here). In this second novel in the series we rejoin Alex and Conner whose mother has been kidnapped by forces unknown! Conner and Alex fight to find their mother, meanwhile the evil Enchantress best known for her role as the Evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty, has plans for the Fairy Tale Kingdoms and she’s not playing nice. 

The recurring cast of characters meets many new fresh characters for an exciting roller-coaster of adventure, mischief, family, and heart. A beautifully scripted sequel. Colfer is a very talented human being and continues to amaze and delight.

For more on The Land of Stories series visit http://www.thelandofstoriesbook.com/ . Book three, A Grimm Warning, is also available! 

“The Sky is Everywhere” – Jandy Nelson

Published June 22, 2014 by writeforabsolution

 

 

“The Sky is Everywhere” is the story of a girl, Lennie, whose sister Bailey has died. With her world destroyed and turned asunder Lennie must learn how to live in this new listless world without her sister. Turning to Toby – Bailey’s boyfriend – she finds a certain comfort in remembering Bailey with him. But then there’s Joe – the new boy – who makes her feel restless and alive and happy. Certain that she’s going to hell Lennie begins a dangerous path between a world without Bailey and never letting go.

This book is told in an inspiring narration that brings to light the truth of death, life, loss, and grief. Lennie is selfish, compulsive, and honest.

There were many things that I thought made this a good book – there are little notes littered through the pages – small scraps of pages, poems, comments – that break up the chapters and yet manage not to interrupt the flow of the narration. There are decisions in the book where you want to reach into the book and shake Lennie, and then you want to reach in and hold her because of her pain. It’s definitely a roller-coaster of a book.

Many critics have compared it to “If I Stay” and “Thirteen Reasons Why” I would agree with that assessment. I think that it has a lot of heart, a lot of morality, and most of all a lot of truth.

Lennie also explains how “The Sky Is Everywhere” and it’s a beautiful concept.

It’s Nelson’s first book and I think she got it right. I would recommend.

 

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” Richard C. Morais

Published June 17, 2014 by writeforabsolution

As a self professed “reader” I like to add a bit of culture to my reading repertoire. I do tend to focus on a genre (Young Adult) and usually within that genre a subset (paranormal fiction). Now and again, however, I do like to branch out and experience all sorts of new things. My latest “branch out” piece was “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais. 

The book is narrated by Hassan Haji, who recounts his life history starting as a kid in Mumbai to being a chef in France. The book is littered with interesting characters, steady narration that is at times comical, and very interesting and delightful foods. The story is literally a journey that spans years, and feet, into the soul and heart of the characters and the cultures.

I found the novel, at first, to be a bit slow going. I was having a hard time getting into sync with the characters. I thought Haji was a  bit wordy, a lot of his imagery (and descriptions in general) I felt were a bit contrived. There were some great narrations that I felt were perfect and fun and those bits made me keep chugging through. Once the story got into more of the meat of it, the reader kind of gets used to the flowery nonsense of the some of the adjectives.

The characters were flawed and a bit of a struggle and I think that was perfect, it’s always good to have characters with depth that you can really just dislike and then feel are still redeemable (or aren’t redeemable). The character development was solid and really helped bring the piece together. Along with that, the accents were written out and that’s always challenging to do (speaking from experience as someone attempting to write a novel in a Scottish brogue) but I believe they were written out wonderfully. It added such texture to the speech, you could really hear all of the accents and made the imagery something really tangible.

And the food. The food was so interesting to read about – unique and fun, at some parts very graphic and disgusting. They go to the market at one point and there’s a butcher. . . well, I’ll just leave it at that. I almost stopped reading on the spot. But the imagery was sensational. And descriptive.

Overall, I’m not going to say it was a favourite book of mine, but I did end up really enjoying it. So, if your usual style is in the vein of “Eat, Pray, Love” or “Under the Tuscan Sun” then this book is right up your alley.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Published May 28, 2014 by writeforabsolution

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Normally with any John Green book you will see it in my hand before you even knew it was available. Normally I’ve already pre-ordered his latest work, or at the very least have run out and bought it the day of it’s release. But with The Fault in Our Stars I hesitated. “Hesitated?” You ask, cocking your head in confusion. Yes. Hesitated. I knew the plot synopsis and I admit I was not keen to read a book about “cancer kids”. I have read a lot of depressing books in my life and I was at a point where I was done putting myself through torture just because I like the author. (like is an understatement but I digress).

So I put off reading TFiOS. Then a movie deal – as with many books nowadays. So I saw the trailers, and I saw the posters, and my friends and colleagues raved about it. And I sighed and procrastinated. But you see, the beautiful thing about me is that I can hardly ever leave a book-to-movie unread. If I intend on seeing the movie, I had better read the book. And boy did I intend on seeing this movie.

So. I diligently bought the book and proceeded to read. Half a day later I was in tears and it was beautiful.

Yes. This book is about Hazel Grace and her “courageous” battle with cancer and her life as she attempts to navigate the Waters of Augustus (please forgive the play on words, but I think Hazel Grace and Augustus would have appreciated it). But the book is about so much more than cancer. It is about life, and love, and hope, and pain, and anger, and sadness, and injustice. It is humorous and heart-wrenching. It is told in the beautiful language that John Green alone has the ability to manipulate.

It is everything perfect that I expected and much more.

So yes. You will laugh, you will – if your soul is intact – cry, and it will be one of the most important books of this generation.

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