Week of Mondays

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s been a week of Mondays here. And I mean that in the best possible way. I’m one of those people who love Mondays.

Mondays are a fresh start.
Mondays are productive.
Mondays are inspiring.
Mondays are peaceful (usually, in part, because I rarely have anywhere to rush off to, which leaves me to…)
Mondays are pajama days (most of the time—see above.)

This week has qualified as a week of awesome because:
1. FORTITUDE, my debut novel, will be out in one year. (Hooray!) 100_6830.1

2. Europe (Favorite. Band. EVER.) is releasing their US tour dates this Friday. (Hello, bucket list item number one—see Europe live!)

3. The Shannara TV series (first season based on my favorite Terry Brooks novel, The Elfstones of Shannara) keeps releasing cast news and pre-filming has begun (in New Zealand, of course.) 100_6841

4. I finally got to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

5. I’m on schedule for finishing my edits of CORRODED, so I’m closer to sending it back into Query Land.

It’s been exciting in my little corner of the world. What bits of awesome are filling your week?

Signs

I’m not superstitious, but… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gU5Vg2JokU
Had to add that song because I can’t say “superstitious” without it playing in my head. And, yes, Europe is still around and sounding better than ever.

This morning I approached my desk to write the beginning of my new story. Yes, pre-writing is complete and it’s time to get to work! I pulled the blinds open and saw not one, but FIVE pairs of indigo buntings around the bird feeder area (which is just a few feet away from Fernando, if you were wondering.) Indigo buntings are beautiful—my simple camera, especially pictures taken through a window screen—can’t do them justice. Since they are BLUE, and the younger a gorgeous turquoise, you can easily spot them.

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I’ve only seen indigos once or twice in my yard, and it’s been several years since my last sighting. I thought it was amazingly cool, but didn’t put the birds together with writing until I noticed something on the floor. Right next to my anti-fatigue mat (you got it—I use a standing desk because it worked for Hawthorne and I like to pace) a picture was lying face-down. One of my favorite pictures, that just so happens to be me with local writing friend, Joyce Scarbrough, and my writing hero, Laurie Halse Anderson. At some point during the night it jumped off the top of my bulletin board and landed in my path.

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Then it all made sense to this creative brain of mine: my story is about to take flight and I’ve got good company on the journey. Or something like that.

While I’m not superstitious, I do believe in signs.

What do you believe in?

Feeding the Muse

I’ve gotten notes back from two more beta readers—as well as one literary agent who turned down FORTITUDE. Now, I’m back to writing and editing to strengthen a few things before the next round of submissions/queries.

To help this creative groove keep its momentum, I’m listening to a lot of music. (Something I talk about a lot here.) In the car, my iPod played Europe on shuffle for about a week straight. My eight-year-old knows who Joey Tempest and John Norum are. They have so many great songs spanning thirty years and the music got into my head. The other night I dreamt about turning Europe songs into books—with the band member’s permission (in person, of course, because it was a dream.)
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Today, I switched over to Boston. I’m sure space-themed dreams will follow. It’s happened before—and spawned a manuscript.

What do you do to feed your creativity?

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Music: The Sensory Edition

If you know me, or have followed this blog for any amount of time, you realize that I love music. I use music for mood alteration, inspiration, and escape. My preferred listening method is live, in concert. For sanity sake, I try to attend at least two live performances a year but life doesn’t always allow that.

My second and third choices for listening are earphones and in the car—alone. 100_4829

Having songs plugged into my ears is great for tuning out exterior noise, but it isn’t always practical when supervising children. Plus, I don’t want to subject those around me to my butchered attempts when singing along.

When driving, I usually have my nifty homeschool kids in the car and they like music, too, just not always the same stuff I like. I used to put the “Children’s Music” playlist on shuffle when we went anywhere but I found myself getting a little snappy after fifteen minutes. So now the whole iPod—which is attached to a cassette adapter because I’m so last century—gets put on shuffle when we go.

A Disney song = the kids happy, or most of them, and often me.

A little Mitch Malloy = me happy, and sometimes the kids.

Queen = everyone is good.

Sesame Street = one happy kid.

The Beach Boys = all good, for most songs.

And on, and on.

There are a few times it’s easier to skip to the next song because the natives are noisily protesting, but most of the time they settle down when I say “it’s Mommy’s turn.” When a song I love comes on, my immediate reflex is to turn it up, but with boys with sensory issues in the car, they drown out the music with their own shrieking of discomfort. (That or I get “What’s Mommy singing?” from my teen with autism, as if he can’t tell I’m trying to sing the song that we’re listening to. Funny kid.)

All this—and more—is why my favorite non-live music experience is in the car. ALONE. I can turn it up as loud as I want and sing off-key without annoying people. (I’d also say without embarrassing myself, but I never know who is watching from the outside of the car.) Listening in a vehicle is a step above earphones because the music cocoons your whole self, not just your ears. At times you can feel it, but it’s an immersive experience and the steering wheel makes a good keyboard or drum.

What’s your listening habit?

Music for the Wait Time

It’s been two weeks since I finished the first major round of revisions (there were several edits along the journey) on FORTITUDE. While waiting to hear back from beta readers, I’m working on the synopsis and query letter for it. Plus, a lot of knitting and watching movies have happened—it’s not all work here. Also, I’ve been reading a couple of my friends’ manuscripts. Finished with one from MeLeesa Swann and now I’m on to Israel Parker’s latest epic.

The good news, among all this waiting, is that I can work on the official soundtrack for FORTITUDE. As noted in this post, I like the music to match the arc of the novel. With this being a historical journey, I’m trying to make sure the lyrics fit the times. (Think Bid Time Return—that’s Somewhere in Time to the movie buffs—so the listener/reader isn’t jarred out of the story. Yeah, I’m a geek.) So, out of over thirteen hours of FORTITUDE mood music, I’ve got to arrange a manageable list of timeless songs to share with others. But I’ve stumbled across a few gems in my regular playlist mixes that weren’t in my collection, including this one, which works perfectly during the lowest point for main character Claire O’Farrell, “Reason” by Europe.

Now for a dozen more.

Autism Conference

Yesterday I attended my first autism conference. I’ve gone to workshops and support group meetings, but never a large event. It was three days, but I could only make it to one. I chose the final day because John Elder Robison was a presenter. Yes, that means I missed the iconic Temple Grandin, but I was not disappointed. Not in Mr. Robison anyway. He redeemed the emotions and interest that the first speaker lacked/lost.
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Back to the beginning… I started off early and drove to The University of West Florida, just me and my iPod with the “Wonder Rock” playlist on shuffle. (Translation: lots of Europe, Boston, and Mitch Malloy with a sprinkling of other assorted rockers prominently from the 1970s-1990s.) The campus—sprawling with space between buildings and acres of natural landscape left in tack—was lovely and the fact that their logo has a nautilus was, in my mind, a nod of serendipity to my adventure.

Mr. Robison was hilarious and thought provoking. His passion for sharing his stories (Hello, three books!) shined as well as his social quirks—like pacing around the stage when his family was doing their Q&A. And his family was great, too! Lots of insight and they answered a question for me: What’s the value of getting an Asperger’s diagnosis as an adult? (Which now, with the new DSM-V manual, would be “autism” since the Asperger’s label was removed and it doesn’t differentiate between the levels on the spectrum.)
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I’m leaning toward Mr. Robison’ practical response, though greater peer acceptance and an official credential would be nice. The liability/cost of medical/life insurance when you are diagnosed is greater. Let’s hear it for logical thinkers!

One tool that Mr. Robison recommended was an Autism-Spectrum Quotient test that was posted by Wired magazine many years back. I took it and tested forty-two. No surprise to me. My husband scored seventeen—we’re a case study in opposites attract.

The conference was educational/life affirming. Lots of Aspies to hear from and several things were reinforced to me about what I can do to encourage my ASD son in his growth. What, you ask? Never give up because learning and development continues into adulthood and let him follow his passions/obsessions. Plus, I got two books autographed but I was too shy to ask for a photo.

I’ll diffidently go to another event where any of the Robisons are featured speakers. The day was well spent but I’m curious to see how my friends score on the AQ test. Leave your number in the comments if you’re feeling brave.

CORRODED Soundtrack, 2nd Edition

Nearly a year ago I posted my soundtrack listing for Corroded.
After spending months revising the story this spring-summer, I took a good look at my musical influence. I rearranged, deleted similar songs as well as those that weren’t 100% on target, and even added a special song.
It was difficult culling the list, but it needed to be done. I love music, and the songs I had on the original listing did help inspire my writing moods, but they weren’t all perfect matches.
The new song addition was in response to my early readers’ love of a certain character. Team Ben! Everyone who has read the manuscript connects to Ben so I felt that even though Corroded is told strictly from Mary’s point of view, Ben’s voice is strong enough to merit his own song on the soundtrack.

So, here it is, complete with new tidbits and YouTube videos for your pleasure: Corroded, Second Edition!

Hello Mary Lou (Main character’s name, with classic Ricky Nelson.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLkCWT2neuI

The Very Thought of You (He was so smooth and dreamy. This one is from Mary to Josh.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkHu7C3puWI

You Are a Tourist (How Mary feels at school.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM4Mmd2y4nE

Burning Down Inside (Great live version from last year. Love knowing that bands can still rock years/decades after their songs came out.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yImjBG7qFTw

Dying to Be Alive (Enjoy these guys lots and it fits the mood.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjTNACA_VVk

Somewhere I Belong (The deep search all teens go through.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iCtpuQvydk

I’m the One (Mitch Malloy is my absolute FAVORITE singer/songwriter! Check out his other music and enjoy! This is Ben’s song—swoon away!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7KM46JkHO0

Start from the Dark (By my FAVORITE band and this video has a comic book spin that I think Ben would approve of—even if it isn’t The Avengers.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyg-x1DMHs8

Spirit of the Underdog (For Mary at the Sailor Suzy competition. Love this song and Joey Tempest is a maniac with the mic stand.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpH1-r-JDmw

Life (In closing, I was fortunate enough to catch a Ricky Nelson Remembered concert in April 2012. R.I.P. Rick, and may the twins keep your memories alive for the next generation.)