Tag Archives: in review

February: In Review

For as short as February is, I had a pretty successful month. I worked really hard at time management this month, and the effort paid off. It’s a very gratifying feeling. With that being said, I have lots to report. :) 

 

Reading

Since I tried to focus more on writing than reading this month, I was only able to squeeze in three books. But they were great reads, all of which you can see my opinion on by clicking the links below the picture! 

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade, Queen of the Dead (Ghost and the Goth, Book 2) by Stacey Kade, and Vanish (Firelight, Book 2) by Sophie Jordan

Writing

 At the start of the month, I found myself rather addicted to the site Polyvore. After pinning (on Pinterest) a variety of outfits people had created that I felt represented my style I started thinking that creating outfits for my characters might be an awesome way to keep them visually in my head. See, often times when I’m writing I can usually associate an actor or actress who might play that character should the book ever be a movie, but with the two books I’m currently writing, I have no celeb faces to attach to the people in my head. Creating outfits based on their style though has really kept them alive this month.

 

For those curious this is what the Dreamsters cast “looks like” – 

And this is what the Crack the Sky cast “looks like” – 

I truly dedicated my weekends to writing this month and as a result wrote a total of 15,518 words (13,448 of which belong to Crack to the Sky (which, btw, is now 20,519 words long!) and 2,070 of which belong to Dreamsters). Admittedly, I’m excited about this because I’m pretty sure the last time I wrote so much in one month was probably late 2010. If I can keep up this weekend pattern of 4K+ words, there should be no reason I can’t actually finish a book this year. I really hope this wasn't a fluke and March is equally as generous to me.

 

 

Music: On Repeat

It’s been another strange month when it comes to music for me. Some days I couldn't get enough (sometimes listening to just the same song over and over again relentlessly), and then other days I preferred silence. And despite listening to a lot of new* music, I found myself craving some of the older stuff I've loved for a long time, too. Because of this, the top three played songs are sort of a happy mixture of old and new.  

*new = new to me, not necessarily new to the world

Hurt – “Rapture” 

This is a band  actually introduced me to last year (you may remember “Overdose”?), but I’m just now getting to enjoy a whole album. This song will be featured on Crack the Sky’s playlist and because of that, it got played on a loop while writing this month.

Shearwater – “Breaking the Yearling” 

Currently the most played track of the year so far with 220 plays, credit can go to for this track. While I’m still not sure how I feel about the rest of Shearwater’s music, I know I love this track without question!

Underoath – “A Fault Line, A Fault of Mine” 

This one snuck in towards the end of February. I woke up one day craving a band I’ve loved for quite some time now and once satisfying my craving, realized so many of their songs were perfect for my books. This song, in particular, got over 150 plays already while working on Crack the Sky. No doubt the play count will continue to climb until this books complete. 

**Obviously, the latest Arctic Monkeys track, "R U Mine?" has already been played equally as many times as the tracks listed above, but since I just posted it two days ago here, I didn't see a need for re-posting it. 

Photography

No, I’m not a professional, but I have been spending a great deal of time researching and learning new techniques to take my nephew’s pictures every week. Like the effort I put into writing this month, I think the effort I’m putting into being a better photographer is paying off, too. Check out the ‘Best Of’ from February of Gideon!

And that’s all from me! I can only hope to have an equally, if not more successful month in March. *fingers crossed*

How did you fare in February, friends? Anything exciting to report? 

———————

2011 In Review: Music (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of my reflections of music in 2011! This one pays homage to the bands themselves (*new bands that really stood out to me this year over all the others) and to the people who turned me on to them (sometimes that includes myself)!

*New to me, not necessarily new to the world

Note: Clicking the image of each band will take you to their site and music. You should totally click their images to check them out!

Corruption from Heather

Even though I’ve known Heather for a couple of years now and we talk literally every day via email, chat, etc…, it wasn’t until this year that our game of music corruption really began. I honestly don’t remember exactly how it started. I think it was a song by The Hush Sound that might have been the beginning of what has been an awesome year of sharing music with her. I remember sending it to her via email because it was currently living on repeat for me and discovering that she abuses single songs just as much as me. Within a few days we’d both listened to the song so many times it was ridiculous and it spawned something wonderful. A year later and we’ve shared an uncountable amount of music with each other, almost all of which we easily fell in-love with. Sharing music is always fun, but it’s so much better to share it with someone who’s ears are so attuned to the same thing as yours! Of all the bands Heather has turned me onto the two that consistently get the most plays are:

Sick Puppies

According to Heather, the first two songs she ever sent me were “Survive” and “The Bottom” because they’re her favorites. I just know that I loved Sick Puppies so much based on just those songs that I pretty much pestered her until she sent me more. As you saw in my previous music post that I loved this band enough to make one of their tracks the most played track of the year. If I had posted the top twenty most played tracks of the year five of them would have been Sick Puppies songs. I’d say that says a lot about how much I ended up loving this band this year!

                    

RED

When I was growing up, I was into quite a few Christian rock bands, but for a while there the sound just wasn’t compatible to the other rock music I listened to and I stopped giving it a shot. So, I was surprised when Heather introduced me to this band and I fell in-love with their sound instantly, to then discover that they were a Christian rock band. I guess religious rock has made a comeback? It doesn’t really matter that they’re a Christian group, but I have to admit that the lyrics of their songs move me a little more than most and I love how they can so cleverly weave those powerful words into a sound that’s so hard and unlike most Christian music. Needless to say, this has become a band that has not only helped me write, but filled my soul with comfort when I’ve needed it most. They’re a really great band that I doubt I’ll grow tired of anytime soon.

         

Corruption from Steve

Mine and Steve’s friendship began solely because of music. Originally he was a friend of Heath’s, who heard I liked Atreyu and wanted to see if I’d heard of some of his other favorite bands. Turns out he had a heck of a lot more bands under his belt in this genre of music than I had even heard of and his influence on me was crazy-strong. Since meeting him in August, I’ve added almost 4GB of music to iTunes. That’s almost half of the entire year’s additions. I would like to say I may have equally corrupted him with some of my favorite music, but our relationship is pretty one sided unfortunately. He gives, I take. Luckily, he’s a good sport and seems to enjoy getting me into something new!  While many of the bands he’s turned me onto deserve recognition, the following two are by far my favorites:

Artifex Pereo

Very rarely does a band have such consistency for me that I can listen to anything they put out and love it all equally. Sure, I’ll still have songs I’m more drawn to and particularly based on my mood, but if I can listen to every song without skipping a track it says a lot about a band. This group qualifies as one of those rare few. While I suppose their music generally has a harder sound, they also have these brilliant moments of softness too. Their instrumentals can be beautifully complicated or perfectly simple and still amaze you. They have potential to be around for a very long time if they stick with it, in my opinion. They’ve recently acquired a new singer and I just hope he helps the band bring as much to the plate as they have before. I can’t wait for new music in the future and I truly hope I get to see a show one day!

      

Dance Gavin Dance

This band can be a bit difficult, but not because of their musical ability. They’re difficult because of the way they flip-flop singers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The singers they’ve featured have been equally skilled, but it leaves each album holding a noticeably different sound. Again, though, that’s not a bad thing. To me, they mix singing and screaming in a really entertaining way and their screaming isn’t so muffled that you couldn’t scream along (which happens too often unfortunately with screamer bands). This is the type of band that I imagine I’d go crazy to in a pit at a show and I really hope I get to see them live one day to test this theory.

          

Rediscovered Bands

Sometimes I have a tendency to forget about bands I love. I blame this partly on the fact that I don’t listen to the radio and rely greatly on others to corrupt me musically. Because of social mediums though it’s been easier to stay up to date with music I like, but before it, sometimes it was pretty easy for me to be distracted by something new and let the other bands I like fall by the wayside. This year I found a few bands I used to love again and “catching up” on all I’d missed over the year was far too fun! Reliving my memory of why I loved them before certainly won’t let me forget about them again!

Mindless Self Indulgence

Maybe the year was 2002 when I first got into MSI. I was wearing face paint a lot back then because I was “down with the clown” and MSI was a fairly popular band with the Juggalos. I wouldn’t have had to be a Juggalette, though, to like MSI. The problem was, I stopped hanging around those clown kids in 2004 and lost my connection to this semi-underground band. When I got into that The Left Rights song that was the most played track of the year last January, I felt compelled to check up on MSI and see what they’d been up to for the last few years. Turns out, it was a lot! Quickly, I just had to buy everything I’d missed and was also blessed with the re-release of Tight as Tighter this year. Needless to say, they were my favorite “rediscovered band” of the year.

         

Thrice

Thrice is one of those bands that I always liked whenever I heard them, but never actually owned anything by them which made it even easier to forget about them when I wasn’t around people who also listened to their brand of music. This year, though, Steve can take credit for re-introducing them to me and just in time, too, for their latest album. Sadly, shortly after the release of Major/Minor they announced that they’d be on hiatus for a while to enjoy their home lives. While I’m disappointed that just as I’ve acquired all of their music, they’ve left the scene, I also have a lot of respect for talented people who don’t let their talent take away from their real lives too. I’m sure they’ll be back one day and when they return, I’m confident it will be stellar!

           

Dead Bands*

Stumbling onto bands that totally rock after the fact can be fun because they usually come with a hefty load of music to keep your ears occupied. The downfall, though, is that that’s all you’ll ever get out of them. You’ll never have an opportunity to see them live, you’ll never hear new music from them, and you’ll probably never even be able to find a t-shirt or decent memorabilia unless they were super famous. That part sucks. Being dead or not, though, doesn’t mean I won’t still love them. This year’s favorite “dead bands” include:

He Is Legend

Again, Steve can take credit for turning me onto He Is Legend. In fact, the first song he ever sent me was “Do You Think of Pretty.” He had said he knew I’d like this band, without doubt, because “girls think Schuylar’s pretty vanilla.” That didn’t really have anything to do with why I ended up loving them, but it did make me laugh. Anyway, many albums later and I was hooked to He Is Legend and sad to know that they were on hiatus with no future in the works.

                      

Morningwood

I blame the fact that I had forgotten about MSI for the past couple of years on not knowing about Morningwood. I mean, the lead singer is Jimmy Urine’s wife. There’s no way if I’d stayed up to date with MSI that I would have missed out on the awesomeness that is Morningwood. In fact, finding them at all this year is completely because of rediscovering MSI. YAY for social mediums and bands pumping up their buddies! :) Anyone that knows me, knows I love rocker chicks and when you’re as talented as Chantel and your band reminds me of 90’s rock, well… it’s a no brainer, I’m gonna love you.

                          

(*Apparently, despite believing both of these bands would never make a comeback all year, I’ve just recently discovered that there may be hope for them both after all! He Is Legend has already announced they will be releasing a new album in 2012 and Morningwood is currently listed as the opening band for Mindless Self Indulgence this year on tour. This makes me incredibly happy.)

Want to see if you can corrupt me musically in 2012?

I dare you. 😉

——————

2011 In Review: Writing

My writing achievements this year were a joke. Such a joke that I’m embarrassed to even share a total word count. It’s laughable.

While I could argue that all the “life events” I was involved in this year had an effect on my ability to find the time to write, it’s not wholly the truth either. I just didn’t have it in me this year.

The beginning of the year was met with the unexpected loss of a critique partner (not loss like death, loss like abandonment). I guess I hadn’t realized what kind of impact that truly had on me until it was months later and I was still dwelling on the why’s rather than moving on.

Then in my attempts to move on, my characters decided to pull a disappearing act on me too, frolicking around in a part of my mind I just couldn’t access. For a long time I begged and pleaded for them to return, even going as far as ignoring other characters from shiny new story ideas, all to try and complete the book I said I’d finish this year. But as more months passed, I finally just gave up. And giving up felt like an overall thing, not that I’d just say bye to that particular book, that I’d say bye to the possibility of being a writer altogether.

Thank God Heather never lets that happen. 

By the time fall was approaching and I had all these pathetic attempts at accumulating a word count all year, I got the writing bug again. Creative juices working overtime in my brain, filling me with a sense of excitement I had forgotten writing had given me before. And I had a startling revelation, one that shouldn’t have been so surprising because people had suggested it to me before, but since I apparently like to live in denial, it was.

I am a seasonal writer.

With fall and winter being my favorite times of the year, my overall demeanor is happier – more at peace and therefore easier to tap into my creative ways. It’s a bit strange, I suppose, since fall and winter are more commonly known to bring on seasonal depression, yet the opposite seems true for me. I might write something of value in my “off” seasons, but it is likely to be in small quantities, hardly worth noting. Fall and winter are where the magic happens for me. Finally accepting this newly discovered trait about myself forced me to make the most of fall this year and finally “move on” to something new.

Cue Crack the Sky

I still love my first story and truly hope to finish it one day, but maybe it was foolish of me to think I was capable of writing an epic fantasy series as my first book. Maybe once I successfully complete a couple standalone novels, revisiting my first series will be easier (and fun again).

I truly hope Crack the Sky stays shiny and bright for me well into the New Year. It’s been a long time since I’ve loved my own work so much. It’d feel really empowering if this time next year I’ve not only finished that book, but started another one!

Writer friends, how did you fare this year writing wise?

2011 In Review: Music (Part 1)

2011 was an extremely musically charged year for me. In fact, when it comes to these year end lists, music had so much influence on me that it makes the other “reviews” I’ll do seem lackluster. I have added 9.12 GB worth of music to my iTunes this year (that’s approximately 1400 new songs) and that’s not even all of the music I’ve acquired this year. I’m scared to do the math and see what my Amazon MP3 bill looks like.

Anyway, because music was so prominent this year, I plan to break my music review into two parts for you. What you’re seeing now are the Top Ten Most Played Songs. Keep an eye out for Part 2 – featuring the Best *New Bands of 2011 and the corruptors who made it possible! :)

*New to me, not necessarily new to the world

Top Ten Most Played Songs

Every month this year, I’ve done an “On Repeat” post of the music currently getting a lot of love that month. If you’ve been paying attention all year, most of the songs in this top ten should seem a little familiar to you.

10. Sixx: A.M. – "Pray for Me"

I was a fan of Motley Crue growing up so when Heather turned me onto Sixx: A.M. and I realized the band featured Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue it was pretty easy to give them a shot. Clearly, the fact that this song makes this top-ten list is evidence that I ended up loving them. (Warning: The video is explicit)

9. Three Days Grace – “Scared”

So badly I've wanted a character to own this song, but nope, no ones stepped up to the plate for it yet. That didn’t mean I couldn’t love it though, and play it ad nauseam just because I wanted to. That does happen sometimes, after all. 😉

8. Tides of Man – “Chemical Fires”

It surprises me a little that this song got so many plays so quickly considering the band itself is still fairly new to me, but once a certain character of mine heard it, he demanded I listen to it over and over again while working on his book in November. Also, it doesn’t hurt that overall this band flat out rocks and reminds me of a band I grew up loving.

7. The Kills – “U.R.A. Fever”

Imagine two wayward teens, one of which used to be popular. They share a common trait, a special ability, but no one else knows that. Now picture them walking onto campus in one of those slow motion walk sequences like you’ve seen in movies like Road Trip. Suddenly, they seem cool. This is the imagery that belongs to this song for me. Two characters from a companion novel to my first book own this song for this reason and when I received the song, I just knew whenever I return to writing their book that this track will be played so-so many more times than it already has been.

6. Artifex Pereo – “The Lantern & the Firefly”

Everything by this band is so easy to write too, especially for Crack the Sky because their sound overall just fits the tone of that book so perfectly. It’s the kind of music I imagine the lead male listening to so it’s easy to just have it on in the background when I’m writing. This song in particular, though, will actually represent a major turning point in the book and writing that scene will be so much fun! I imagine, as I aim to complete Crack the Sky in 2012, that this track will bleed into the New Year and get heaps more plays.

5. Emarosa – “Breather”

I didn’t even get into Emarosa until late in the year, but this song became the backdrop of the intro to my NanoWrimo novel and as a result was played over 285 times! I love when bands I like release wordless music, especially when it’s as epic as this track. Sometimes it’s the best stuff to write to!

4. Prom Kings – “Angels”

When I first heard this song I loved it right away and I was grateful for the way it seemed to wake up characters I’d long given up on. It became representation of the way the story will end, something I had no idea of when the story had first come to me, and partly the reason I thought it was a dead story. At the time I had no idea this story would be a book I’d actually start working on, but it became my NanoWrimo novel and this song got even more plays than I could have expected!

3. White Rabbits – “Midnight & I”

White Rabbits is a band I really got into last year honestly, but for some reason in the beginning of 2011 I couldn’t get enough of them again and this song in particular. Again, this is a song that was used for a book and it is largely the reason for its repetitive nature. Even if it hadn’t been used for a book though, I would have still loved its moody piano based sound.

2. Sick Puppies – “I Hate You”

I can’t even remember what the first Sick Puppies song I heard was at this point because once I acquired all of their music this song completely dominated my ears. While I will say that everything by this group is extremely easy to listen to, this song in particular got the most plays not just because I liked it, but also because characters from a four book series I plan to write claimed it as theirs. Characters, as you’ve already seen, have a lot of power over me when it comes to my music selection.

1. The Left Rights – “I’m on Crack”

Certifiably the strangest song in this list, I know. I listened to this song ad nauseam last January when they first released it. It’s a side project from Mindless Self Indulgence singer, Jimmy Urine (whom I love), and I just couldn’t help myself.  It’s also a short song so its play count quickly climbed higher than the others because of this.

What lived on repeat for you in 2011?

————–