Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a bloghop hosted by Jaime and Erin. Stop by their blogs and join in.

What I'm Reading

I'm having an epic CLAMP re-read. I've finished Tsubasa, xxxHolic, and X. I really want to re-read Cardcaptor Sakura, but my volumes are so old, they're literally falling apart. I'm going to have to wait until I can afford to buy the more recent omnibuses before reading that one, so I think I'll turn my attention to Magic Knight Rayearth ;)

I really need new versions of X, too. Mine are "flipped" and have really out-of-keeping English sound effects scrawled all over the beautiful artwork. *sigh* Where's a lottery win when you need one? ^^;

What I'm Writing

Still dabbling ;)

What Works For Me

New music! I've been spoiled for choice with music from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts lately.I really can't recommend the beautiful Final Symphony album enough. It's an orchestral album of music from Final Fantasy VI, VII and X. It's wonderful. You know when music is so emotive it gives you chills? That's this album for me.

What Else I'm Up To

The day job. I'm rapidly approaching a busy period, but the good news is I'll be off to America at the end of it, so I really can't complain :P

Monday, 23 February 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Kusmi Breakfast Tea

Today's tea is becoming a favourite. It's been a while since I featured a breakfast tea, so why not go with the strong and unique Kusmi blend? It's a Russian-founded company now based in France, and should I ever find myself in Paris, I'll be sure to find them! Until then, online orders and the London shop (which I hope to visit this weekend!) will have to do ;)

You can't help but admire how beautiful that tin is. Such lovely artwork! I've had this caddy for a couple of years now. It definitely stands out, and so does the taste.

It has quite thin leaves, so you are going to want to brew it for at least four minutes to really get the best taste. I also recommend a scoop and a half per person, otherwise you'll miss out on its great flavour. And be sure not to use too much milk if you don't brew it for long enough, because you really will overpower the taste. I find it to be smooth, with just the right kick at the end, which is what I want from a breakfast tea. Gentle enough to ease you into the day, while simultaneously making sure you're awake and ready to write.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Monthly Soundtrack Reviews: Gone Girl

Soundtrack: Gone Girl
Year: 2014
Composer: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Stand Out Track: What Have We Done To Each Other?
Works Well With: Horror, Thrillers

This soundtrack is very different to all the others I've reviewed thus far. And I promise there will be no spoilers for the book or the film within this review, so don't worry if you've yet to experience the story yourself.

The music on this soundtrack has such a dark undercurrent. On the surface, some pieces are gentle and nice, but the longer they go on, the stranger they become. Discordant noises underpin the melodies. Just give Sugar Storm or Like Home a listen, and you'll hear what I mean.

The music is very reminiscent of the Silent Hill soundtracks. The Way He Looks At Me, with its drum beat and bizarre accompaniments, would fit perfectly into that game series. It's why the Gone Girl OST is such a great tool for people writing horror or dark thrillers. Some tracks seem to drip with madness, which could translate quite nicely into a tormented character. Perpetual sounds especially claustrophobic, like nothing can be trusted. Consummation is terrifying in its steadily increasing urgency. It really sounds like something's coming to get you.

While this isn't the kind of soundtrack I'd stick on in the car, it's perfect for writing grim, terrifying, and tense moments with. Can't recommend it enough for those of you who like a creepy edge to your work.

Do you have a favourite score to write horror with?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Time Wasting Or Finishing What You Start?

This post follows on from last week's discussion regarding changing genre. Are you wasting your time on a book that isn't working? Are you forcing yourself to crank out a story that isn't really what you want to be writing?

Maybe I'm a quitter, but I don't see the sense in forcing myself to write a book that isn't working. For me, that book was MagicalGirl!Story. I felt like I had to get it done because it started out so well. Unfortunately, the editing revealed a lot of problems, problems that I rapidly lost interest in fixing, especially when I had such an exciting new idea crying out for attention, an idea that, like Colony, would not be ignored.

This book is pulling me in! Aaaaaaargh!

Forcing myself to work on something I didn't like wasn't really getting me anywhere. I wasn't improving as a writer. I wasn't enjoying myself. As a writer without an agent or an audience, I don't actually owe anyone else anything. I owe myself to do the best work in the hopes of gaining an agent and an audience. When that happens, my self-serving attitude will have to change, but right now? Nope. The only person my writing has to satisfy is me. And that's why I stopped wasting time on the book that wasn't working, and moved onto the one that, thankfully, worked out really well...

...Well, I like to think it did. I'll have to wait and see what the beta readers think, won't I?

And who's to say I won't go back to MagicalGirl!Story one day with the power to fix it? Maybe I will. Right now, however, my energy is needed elsewhere.

How do you feel about quitting something you start without finishing it?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Yup, it's that time of the week already! Come and join in Jaime and Erin's bloghop and tell us all about your writing week.

What I'm Reading

I finished Debt of Honor. I struggled with this one. And I struggled with how to sum up my reaction to this book without going into a particularly long rant. The short version is it jumped the shark. The long story is it's racist, sexist, and uses rape as a plot device to ensure the main character first becomes Vice-President and, under 100 pages later, is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Seriously! That's what the unresolved and appallingly written rape subplot winds up being: a narrative device. The victim is completely forgotten. UGH. And all the "good" guys handling the case are like "Oh, these poor women. NOT ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS!" Oh yes, it has a "not all men" argument. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Suffice to say I am done with this series. I never should've read past The Sum of All Fears. *sigh*

Now I'm re-reading one of my favourite manga series of all time, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.

What I'm Writing

My book is off with the first round of beta readers! Commence nail biting ;) Right now, I'm just doing what I like to call "ticking over" writing. So it's nothing in particular, but it's keeping me from stopping entirely.

What Works For Me

That week off sure did! Can't believe I wrote and sent a draft out to beta readers within two months O_O Personal record for sure.

And always celebrate the small victories. You deserve it!

What Else I'm Up To

Violin. With a combination of practical and theory, it's really starting to come together. My teacher wants me to take my Grade IV exam in the summer ^^; Eep!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Ceylon Kenilworth from Whittard

It's official, lovely readers. Ceylon is my go-to tea for relaxation. It has such a smooth taste, and because it doesn't have the punch of an Assam, it's perfect for afternoon and evening drinking. Or during the middle of a particularly busy day at work ;) I picked this one up from Whittard based on its aroma. For me, there's something almost buttery in its scent.

I recommend brewing this for at least three minutes, and not drowning it in too much milk. That way you can appreciate the subtle taste. I know, I know, take the milk out and you'll taste nothing but tea, but I still prefer mine with it.

Not only could this tea be exactly what your mind needs to transition into writing, but also to relax afterwards. If you've had a tricky scene to write, or a lot of editing to work through, you deserve a nice, soothing cup of tea. You can't go wrong with a nice cup of Ceylon Kenilworth.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Try a New Genre

My current WiP is a big departure from the science fiction I usually write.

It's exactly what I needed.

Last year, I wrote two drafts and got stuck halfway through a third (which at some point I must fix because that stalled book has a great concept). However, nothing I wrote last year would ever be good enough to query. One book was always going to be a personal project (and it was so much fun to write), but MagicalGirl!Story just didn't work quite like I wanted it to.

The time had come to try something new. Halfway through December 2014, I started a contemporary ghost story and here I am, not quite two months later, sending it off to the first round of beta readers. I have never written and edited a book like this before. The new challenges the book presented spurred me on to work really hard.

And there's the finished second draft! :D

Ideas are ideas. They come and they have to be written, regardless of the genre we "usually" write in. I love science-fiction, and it's a wonderfully broad genre to write in, but I needed a change. My writing needed a change if I was going to improve.

Write whatever you want, especially if you feel like you're stagnating as a writer. New genres bring new challenges, new characters, and new adventures! Ever had an idea poke you, but you've ignored it in favour of your usual genre? Don't. Write it. Set your imagination free. Who knows what could happen?