Monday, 26 January 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Clipper's Gold Tea

I've been really looking forward to drinking more tea from Clipper. They are definitely my go-to for teabag blends. They just taste so good, and teabags are a lot easier to take to the day job than loose-leaf tea. Also, when the editing is going surprisingly smoothly and you need to make a quick, delicious cuppa, Clipper is a fantastic brand to have on standby. Their Gold Tea is another brilliant every day tea, and its perfect price makes it a great substitute for more expensive brands.

What I like about this tea is the addition of the Kenyan tea to give it a richer taste than your regular blends of Assam and Ceylon. It's definitely a good morning tea, and perfect for a busy afternoon, whether it's writing, editing, planning, or day job related fun.

Oh, and the mug was a Christmas gift from my bosses. They know me entirely too well ;)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Monthly Soundtrack Reviews: Uncharted 3

Soundtrack: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Year: 2011
Composer: Greg Edmonson, with Azam Ali, JD Mayer and Clint Bajakian
Stand Out Track: Nate's Theme 3.0
Works Well With: Action and adventure stories.

The more I listen to this soundtrack, the more I love it. It's so cinematic in its quality, and it lends itself so well to those of us writing action-packed adventure stories. It's got a great opening theme, and there are some brilliant pieces for chase scenes. One of my favourite sections of the game features the brilliant Boarding Party, which starts with a mellow, mysterious air and then explodes into action.

This soundtrack is especially brilliant for chase scenes set in deserts or other hot places.Badlands and The Empty Quarter will make you feel like you're sweeping over epic, arid landscapes.

There are some great quieter tracks, too. I really like the use of classical guitar music in Small Beginnings. It's repeated to great effect in the more up-tempo Museum Bust, which is another favourite for writing those really decisive chase scenes. You've also got Drake's Return, for those calmer, more character-driven moments.

Where this soundtrack really shines is when it's going for big, bold, intense moments. The broody opening to The Setup gives way to a good dramatic piece with a great buildup. Perfect for characters about to face a big showdown. And if your story's build up takes place in a non-Western setting, be sure to check out tracks like Bazaar Brawl or The Caravan.

Oh, and if you have a particularly trippy moment in your story, this soundtrack has you covered with Mindgames. It's a quieter, more menacing piece.

The great news is, this soundtrack is available on iTunes! Check out the previews and see what you like. And if you enjoy this music, chances are you'll love the other Uncharted OSTs. They've been essential to my current WiP.

Also, on a totally unrelated to music note, I love how the cover to this OST sums up Nate, the main character, so well. If Nate isn't walking away from something he just blew up/burned down/generally destroyed, it ain't an Uncharted game.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Coping With Rejection: Yes, You Can Be Angry


Anger is as natural a reaction to rejection as crying, but there is one absolute golden rule that you've got to follow:

Do not send snarky, angry responses to a rejection e-mail.

You can't go firing off angry e-mails to agents. Talk about unprofessional. Have you ever seen some of the messages agents get in response to rejections? It's madness. It might seem really satisfying to send an agent a list of reasons why they're wrong about your book, but that is quite possibly the worst idea you'll ever have and, when the anger cools and you regain your senses, you'll be like this:

No matter how it irks you, whether it's a form rejection, or it's "Dear Author" when agents say "Please don't send any 'dear Agent' e-mails!", or your name's spelled wrong for the fifth time in a row, or it's silence on a full with a follow-up e-mail, just... just...




(Are we allowed to say that without using Frozen gifs?)

Take that anger and use it elsewhere. Write an angry scene, go play a videogame (first person shooters and Tomb Raider work best for me and ohmigawd how unhinged does that make me sound?! "RAGE MAKES ME SEEK HEADSHOT ACHIEVEMENTS IN VIDEOGAMES MWAHAHAHAHAAA!!!), stand outside and scream as loud as you can (then assure your neighbours/random passersby everything's fine). Walk. Run. Swim. Engage in a Netflix marathon. Just get that anger out, accept that it's another rejection and keep going.

Oh, and please don't take it out on friends or family members either. Rant at them, but don't be mean. It's not their fault.

People talk a lot about the sadness, but that frustration from the umpteenth rejection can easily turn to anger. Remember: it's never the agent's fault. It's not even your fault! It's one of those things. Stories are personal, and so are everybody's reasons for liking and disliking them. Don't go and blow your chances with another agent by sending a nasty message to one who rejected you.

Breathe through the rage, let it settle back down, regain your calm centre and send out the next batch. Your agent could be just around the corner!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Stow the Guilt

Life, no matter how hard we try not to let it, can get in the way of writing. And sometimes, even when you want to write, you're too worn out, or you reaaaaaally need to play Kingdom Hearts, but there's writing to be done and not enough time to squeeze it all in and... and...


Look, it's really simple: you have to do what you most want to do. Chances are even in your totally mad working day, there's a five minute window somewhere when you can write even 100 words. More than you had before, right? And if there isn't, or if you're too tired, or you actually want to do something else, go for it! So what if all your writing friends are cranking out way more words than you? Work at your own pace, and if that pace requires an evening *cough*oreveryevening*cough* out for Kingdom Hearts, DO IT.

What? I have needs. Intense, fangirly needs.

We're all busy people, and sometimes, we actually have to do something other than write. Sometimes you want to do something other than write, and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. No, really! Don't beat yourself up about it. Your book will still be there when you can get back to it. 

Seeing as I'm on such a fangirly kick right now, what geeky past-times keep you from writing? 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What's Up Wednesday

It's another What's Up Wednesday, in which I neatly sum up the past week, in the company of Jaime, Erin and all the other participants :D

What I'm Reading

Finished Emma's book ;) Then I decided to go back to good 'ol Jack Reacher with Gone Tomorrow. So far, it's waaaaaay better than the last one I read.

What I'm Writing

Internet cookies to all who get the reference ;)

Yes, one draft complete. 64k in exactly a month! It's shorter than my usual drafts, but if feels right, you know? I am now doing a quick, messy read through to separate it into chapters and work out where more research is needed.

This is a great start to 2015 :D

What Works For Me

Definitely enjoying these internet-lite weekends. Haven't managed to totally disconnect yet, but not spending hours just poking around various websites is definitely helping me focus on the writing. I have a finished draft to prove it ;)

What Else I'm Up To

Trying to drill scales and key signatures into my brain. Ah, the joy of musical theory.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Oolong from Jing

Today's tea, and the tea set, were birthday gifts from my eldest brother. A lot of upcoming reviews will be marked as gift. Christmas and my birthday provided plenty new teas for me to taste. Hooray!

I'm pretty new to Oolong, but I'm definitely keen to try more. It's a different taste to what I'm used to, but definitely one a lot of black tea drinkers will find oddly familiar as it's used in a lot of other blends.

What is Oolong, you ask? Well, it's a type of tea grown in China and, in the case of today's, Taiwan.

This particular Oolong is Jing's Li Shan tea. I love the taste after a three minute brew. I drink it without milk or sugar. You'll notice the tea takes on a golden, green hue. It has such a smooth taste, with the strength of a black tea, but the floral touches any Earl Grey fan will definitely appreciate.

And I really like watching the leaves unfurl in the teapot. So pretty!

My brother treated me to this beautiful Glass Gong Fu Tea Set from Jing for my birthday, and it's perfect for sampling new teas. Not only do teas brew beautifully in the teapot, but the whole set up is designed to give you time out of your working schedule to slow down, think, and relax. Sometimes I'll have a small tea ceremony during my violin practice, other times I'll do it when I need to take a break from writing and think a few things through or make notes for research.

You can have extra hot water ready to refill your pot or, if you prefer, you can brew for your preferred length of time and decant it into the second jug to keep the leaves from steeping too long. And the tray is perfect to pour any excess water in to. Very handy when you're sitting at your desk and don't want to risk spilling water on any electronics.

Do you like Oolong? And does the preparation and drinking of tea translate into a time for contemplation for you?

Friday, 16 January 2015

Coping With Rejection: Cry!

Yes, this week, I am advocating crying. Sobbing. Wailing. General tears-leaking-from-eyeballs.

I don't know about you guys, but I tend to be okay with my first few waves of rejections, but around the fourth wave, especially if there are a few fulls thrown in there and the day job is wearing me out, things start getting pretty emotional. It's not much fun having rejections. Even the really nice ones that tell you you're a good writer and you've just got to find the right agent start to feel less inspiring and more sob-inducing.

So, yeah, cry it out. Get all that sadness out.

And then do whatever makes you happy. Stock up on stuff to give yourself an emotional boost. Set aside a cheer yourself up budget when you're querying. You'll be grateful for it.

A little pile of happiness for me

Hang out with friends and family, too. Don't neglect the rest of your life, because querying isn't the be all and end all. The other people in your life can remind you of that, whether they realise they're doing it or not.

Oh, and keep querying. If you do take a break during the harder times (and don't be afraid to say 'I need a few weeks'), once you've got your energy back, go for it again. Remember, the only way you'll get an agent is to keep sending your work out to them.

Be prepared to cry. Be prepared to feel miserable. But also be ready for the day you realise actually, yeah, you can take the rejection and, yeah, you can totally keep going.

You've got this.