I’ve had the most wonderful vacation this week. Vacation from writing, from editing, from worrying about the book, and from blogging (sort of). It is my intention to have both last week’s Cooking Adventure and the new Inspiration Through Music up for you tomorrow. Today, I just can’t do it. I hope you all understand.
Atmosphere is a huge part of writing. When I’m writing dark fiction especially, I need to be able to see myself in a scene that is eerie, or evokes a mysterious or creepy feeling. My writing seems to thrive when writing about places with an unknown history whether they be quirky or just downright scary. Not only is it just trying to put myself inside of that atmosphere, it is creating an atmosphere where a person has a connection with this creepy place, one that is usually out of reluctance. They’ve come back to it after a long period of time, they are going to it against their will, or they are going there with the sole purpose to finding out what happened to it. When it comes to my writing on that subject, I have a nearly endless library of things to choose from. However, there is one band who really brings a human element to these places. It’s not just instrumental, there is some voice there too to bring it all home. That, my friends, is Snow Patrol for me.
Snow Patrol is a Northern Irish/Scottish alternative rock band that formed in 1994. Gary Lightbody is the lead vocalist and easily captures people’s hearts with the ballads he sings. I discovered Snow Patrol on a trip to New York back in 2006 and was instantly hooked by their song “You’re All I Have”. From there, I investigated their other albums, picking favorites here and there from their other albums and being influenced by them toward certain writing projects. Their music has inspired a number of different works from me, most notably parts of The Monstrum Chronicles and my in-progress novella, “Night Time, Dotted Line.” Today, I’ll be sharing 5 of their songs with you and what I think about when I listen to them.
Yes, I was busy all day yesterday and wasn’t able to get my Inspiration Through Music up on time. I promise I’ll have it for you tonight… late tonight. So just bet on it being there Wednesday morning. It’ll be like Christmas… with a blog post… and music! Stay tuned!
COOKING ADVENTURE #37: Biscuit Cinnamon Buns and Pumpkin Spice Coffee
So… this Cooking Adventure was a little on the easy side. In fact, I’m not sure that I’d even describe it as a proper “adventure”. It was more like a frolic, like the time I made egg drop soup. There were a few things that could have gone better but for the most part, it was a piece of cake making this delectable morning treat and it’s coffee creamer sidekick. And of course, I’ve been enjoying said treats for the better part of a week. Guys, this is essentially one of the simplest things to make and that’s coming from someone who couldn’t make pudding, okay? … Yes, there was a point earlier in my life where I failed to make pistachio pudding. I used water instead of milk… don’t judge me. Anyway, here we go a-frolicking among the biscuits so cinnamony…
About two weeks ago, I found the best writing tool ever. I don’t know how I went without it for so long because it literally contains one of the most comprehensive libraries of music out there. That is Spotify, ladies and gentlemen. I can create playlists using dozens of tracks that I can listen to whenever I want for inspiration. Granted, there are a few soundtracks here and there that are missing (A Beautiful Mind!!) but the majority of music is there. There are even soundtracks on there that I wouldn’t have expected to see such as Limbo and Cry of Fear. However, the one that I re-discovered while listening to music on Spotify has been the spectacularly dark Blood Theme from the television show, Dexter, composed by Daniel Licht.
Daniel Licht is an American film composer, who is known for composing dark, thought-provoking pieces, commonly for horror-related television shows, movies, and video games. Dexter is probably one of his most well-known projects and is pretty amazing to listen to. There are a variety of soft sad pieces mixed in with more quirky fun ones, all strung together with the omnipresent dark atmosphere that lingers in the show. Today, I’ve selected 7 pieces of Licht’s to share with you (ranging from his work on Dexter to his work on the best-selling Silent Hill video game series) and what it is that I see when I listen to them.
COOKING ADVENTURE #36: Mini Pumpkin Croissants
Pumpkin is probably one of my top ten favorite foods. In my research for this Cooking Adventure, I came across a startling discovery. Pumpkin is actually a fruit. A FRUIT. I knew about avacados and tomatoes, but not this. My mind was officially blown. But, I’ve got to say yum. Yummy num num. These things were delicious. I say ‘were’ because I’ve nearly eaten all of them. But I plan on making more very soon… probably within the next day or so. And once again, I had little to no trouble making these scrumptious treats. They were easy, required very few ingredients and yielded a batch of thirty-two, count ’em, THIRTY-TWO mini croissants. Wait… so when I said “I ate them all,” I may have been exaggerating. I gave some to my parents. I didn’t eat all of them… but I could have. And if you make this recipe, odds are, you might, too.
I’m going to be totally honest. Before I started working on my apocalyptic novel, I had only heard of Neil Young. I hadn’t listened to any of his music. Well, that’s not true actually. I’d heard Harvest Moon and Heart of Gold on the radio but I never knew those were his songs. I just happened to be working on a scene for my book a week ago and came to a scene where I needed the main character to choose a musician that they weren’t a fan of. Of course, off the top of my head, I thought of Neil Young, because when I was younger, I had decided that I wasn’t a fan of his (even though I didn’t have a clear understanding of his music.) And of course, while searching through some of his music on Spotify (my new favorite tool), I instantly felt bad that I’d ignored his music for so long. It is piercing, beautiful, and carries a kind of fire that reminds me of Bob Dylan. However, Young’s music, to me, seems to hit me in a different place. It seems to tangle with human emotion more intimately and really fleshes out those emotions when I’m writing.
Neil Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been influential since the sixties when he started singing. He’s sung with several well-known bands including Crosby, Stills, & Nash and Crazy Horse. He’s known by some as the “Godfather of Grunge.” There are several grunge bands that I enjoy, so it’s nice to see where the genre kind of gained its momentum. Today, I have 6 songs of Young’s to share with you today and what I think of when I listen to them.
COOKING ADVENTURE #35: Chicken Pot Pie
I’ll be frank, readers. There have been very few times that a cooking adventure has actually gone the way it was supposed to with no problems. In fact, I can count these times on one hand. However, we can now add this cooking adventure to that list. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect this recipe to turn out so well. And even better, it is something I can eat! It also happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods. While I have been trying to branch out on the things I eat (I ate most of a hamburger this past weekend!), I’m still playing the eating game cautiously. All it takes is one wrong food to send me into a painful ulcer fit. Now that I know how to make this hot comforting dish, I plan on doing it often. It’s not complicated by any means, uses very few ingredients, and there’s almost no way I can botch it up… unless I forget certain ingredients, which… I won’t lie to you… I did once during this adventure. Doesn’t matter. The pie turned out perfect without it and it tasted like something… that someone else besides me made.
When I find a new project that I’m excited about, it’s usually full steam ahead. I will work on that project and that project alone until I’ve cranked out a manuscript. I’ll neglect my social life and usually be very difficult to reach. Anyone who is friends with me already knows this though. In light of this, it may explain why my schedule has been a little hectic the last week. I’ve just started work on an apocalyptic novel that I’m very, very ecstatic about. The basic premise is that a woman recovering from an operation at home is inadvertently spared when an apocalyptic event brings the world to its knees. She must then traverse the new and dangerous world outside with the help of her best friend. Oh, and did I mention that he was dead? I’ve had the idea of writing an apocalypse novel for a few months now… ever since I watched “Jumanji” at the beginning of the summer actually. I really admired the characterization between Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt’s characters and toyed with the idea of making an apocalypse novel that was more character driven instead of plot driven. But I hadn’t quite worked out the kinks. That is, until I started watching the television show, Fringe, and heard the music on it.
Apologies. Nearly a week late with this week’s Inspiration Through Music. My excuse, while being almost exactly the same as the one given in my Cooking Adventures blog, also consists of me working on a new project which I’ve had a hard time tearing myself away from. But, it really is due to the fact that I had some very inspirational music to listen to and was just in the mood to write. When I’ve got a good playlist of music, it really keeps me going. And if you’re a writer, you’ll understand that when you do have that inspiration, it’s best to get as much down as you can, as quickly as you can. One of the songs that has been really pushing me along has been “Roads” by Portishead, the first in the list below of some groovy trip-hop delights. I’ve been listening to this song as I work on my new apocalyptic novel which is turning into a romance of sorts. Of course, I don’t like to do things mainstream, so the romance is especially sad and definitely not your average one.
Portishead is an English trip-hop/downtemp0/electronic band formed in 1991. They are one of the pioneers of the trip-hop music genre and are a relatively well known group. I was introduced to them when I found a youtube video using their song “Wandering Star” a few years back. It immediately conjured a bevy of dark images and inspirations for use on my antagonist of my book at the time (which I will be finishing within the coming year). After listening to their music for a while, I was introduced to the song “Machine Gun” last winter. This song was destined to become one of my favorites and spur on much of the inspiration for my upcoming book, “Aequitas.” Today, I’ll be sharing 5 of Portishead’s songs with you and how they inspire me.