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01 July 2013 @ 06:23 pm
Well, June was mostly a waste. Okay, not entirely, I’m just in a negative state of mind these days. I blame the heat for it.

I read quite a lot in June. I had hoped to complete another book before the month’s end, but I’ve still got about 100 pages in that book so I guess it will count towards July. For some reason, I’ve been craving the feel of paperbacks lately, which is completely strange since I’m pretty much a strictly hardback kind of girl. Something about the books being paperback lately is tricking my brain into thinking they’re shorter (when in fact, they’re not at all – even longer in some cases) and since I’ve been trying to read as much as possible, I’m constantly reaching for the “shorter” reads first. Anyway, here’s what I read in June:

June Reads

Ascendant (Killer Unicorns, Book 2) by Diana Peterfreund
Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 2) by Charlaine Harris
Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler [not pictured]
Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 3) by Charlaine Harris
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 5) by Charlaine Harris

*Clicking the title will take you to my review on GoodReads*
I know I’ve stopped talking about photography in this monthly post, but I had a lot of good photo opportunities in June that I was actually pleased with like Huff Baby #2 Sex Reveal and Gideon’s 2nd Birthday Shoot. A friend of my sister’s has asked me to shoot her family this weekend and even though I said I was done with offering out my services, I said yes. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m hoping since they’re going to be outside, daylight shots, they’ll at least be better than the last family I shot in the dark. *fingers crossed*

And so now, I suppose I should mention writing. It’s obvious I was avoiding it, isn’t it? Well that’s because it’s the first month of the year that I have to report writing NOTHING. Not even a single word. If I thought I felt like a failure last month with my 3K report, imagine how worthless I’m feeling this month. Sigh.

I did print and redline the novel at its current 35K state, but I didn’t even make the revisions to the text document yet. I was busier than normal in June, but I’m really not sure why I couldn’t even write one word. I’m mostly blaming it on the heat because my mental state has been slowly crumbling as a result of the weather. I really need to move somewhere colder, bad.

Despite feeling pretty low about writing nothing in June, I’m trying to be hopeful for July. Jeannine Garsee (onegrapeshy) set up a private Grapemo session on FB and I’ve joined with the goal to write at least 5K. Back in February when she hosted the regular Grapemo here on LJ, I tripled that goal. I’m not confident I can do that again, but if I can pump out at least 5K in this hellish heat, then I’ll be pretty happy with myself. Plus, I need to get past this “middle of the book” phase. Apparently this happens with real authors, too (Victoria Schwab was just talking about this recently), and so hopefully once I get away from 35K and reach for 40, writing the second half of the book will come at a better pace like the first half did. It’s not like I don’t already know what happens; I just need to get it on paper.

So anyway, that was my June. It had its highs and lows. How was your June? Any hopes for July?

P.S. If you missed June's Music Review, click HERE. It's definitely worth it this month. :)
Current Music: Yes – “Leave it”
28 June 2013 @ 09:09 pm
Oh, June. It wasn't good for much, but musically it was on fire (much like the weather). I've been trying to keep these posts under 5 videos a month, with links to the rest and mostly I've stuck to 3, but I just can't do that this month. There is just too much you need to hear. Sorry, not sorry.

I The Mighty - "Four Letter Words"

You probably already know how much I've been looking forward to the new I The Mighty album because I've basically been listening to them non-stop for the past two months now. On release day it was almost like I was daring them to let me down - sure that their streak of perfect music couldn't possibly be an all-the-time thing. But, man, they so did NOT let me down. It is rare for me to love every song a band puts out, so rare that I can count the bands who qualify in less than ten fingers, but I The Mighty has quickly butted it's way into this "favorites" list. Bravo, boys. If you haven't checked out Satori yet, do yourself a favor and get on that. Seriously. (You can stream the whole album to preview HERE.)

City and Colour - "Thirst"

This was another album I was looking forward to releasing in June and it was so, so soothing at just the right times. If you're feeling angsty and want to settle down, I suggest giving City and Colour a shot. It's the kind of music you just chill out too and suddenly you've forgotten why you were angsty to begin with.

Sleeping with Sirens - "These Things I've Done"

It's not that I wasn't a fan of Sleeping with Sirens already, because I was, but I admit I wasn't exactly looking forward to their latest album - heck I didn't even know it was coming out until they released the first single and I wasn't much of a fan of that first track. But then right when the album dropped they released a second single that I just had to have and I found that the album had a lot more of that sound than the first single's sound. I find it a bit funny that I was in no hurry to get this album and in the end I think I liked it better than the previous one. Maybe it's a silly comparison, but I get a lot of 80's hairband feels from this album and it makes me a bit nostalgic for my youth.

letlive. - "The Fear Fever"

You might remember me posting about letlive. in my yearly music reviews last December, about how I wasn't prepared to fall in-love with them the way I did, but it happened. So imagine my delight over them releasing not only a new single this month, but also streaming the entire new album slated to come out in July. I've tried really hard to stay away from that stream because I don't want it to kill the excitement factor of release day, but there are just some songs like this one that are irresistible. You can bet I'll be posting about letlive. again next month. You should just go ahead and get to know them now.

Arctic Monkeys - "Do You Wanna Know?"

A month or two ago Arctic Monkeys announced they were working on a new album to be released this year. Considering Arctic Monkeys is one of those rare favorite bands that I like every song they've ever created, you can imagine the sort of fangirl squeal that escaped my mouth over the news. This month they announced the release date (September 10th) and track list alongside this single. Alex Turner's voice is oh-so-dreamy as usual and if this track and "R U Mine?" (which is also on the album) is any indication of what this album will sound like as a whole, I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it a heck of a lot.

The Material - "Skin & Bone"

I got into this band this month solely because I The Mighty said to. The female voice you heard in their track, "Four Letter Word," is the lead singer of this band and since I'm a sucker for chick-rock it seemed like an easy direction to take. And I'm glad I did because this band's not just good, they're great. They have a lot of the same qualities that made me fall in-love with Paramore back in the day so I'm hopeful I'll love even more than just this album.

Some other tracks worth checking out:

Fall Out Boy - "Where Did the Party Go?"
Deerhunter - "Leather Jacket II"
Tides of Man - "Young and Courageous"

What were you listening to in June? Anything you think I'd like to hear? Please feel free to share, this music junkie can never get enough. :D

Current Music: Tides of Man - "Young and Courageous"
20 June 2013 @ 12:21 pm
Whenever I write something, no matter the significance, from as small as a twitter post to as big as my novel, I chose my words very carefully. And I re-read them several times over before completely committing to them, trying to imagine all the ways those words could possibly be taken. I even re-read them several more times after they’re official just to make sure they still come across the way I intended them to.

It’s the same with speaking for me. I hate the idea of saying something and not being able to take it back so I better really mean it before it leaves my mind. And I’m not one to speak up about something factual unless I am 100% sure I know what I’m talking about.  I say something over and over again to myself before I unleash it from my tongue. I even practice different scenarios in my head so that I know I’ll react properly should I be confronted with one of those situations.

Despite all this effort, I’m constantly reminded that no matter how cautious I am with the words I write or say, I can never truly predict the way someone will perceive and react to them. I often find myself wondering if there was something else I should have said, something to have garnered a different response, but I know it’s really just a waste of brain energy. People are going to view and react according to their own disposition. Nothing you did or didn’t say/write would have changed that.

Do any of you obsess about saying/writing the perfect words only to find yourself shocked by the reactions of those on the receiving end?
Tags: ,
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Material - "Life Vest"
14 June 2013 @ 04:15 pm
Earlier this week I did two pregnancy photoshoots with my sister, one if it was a boy and one if it was a girl, so that when she learned the sex of the baby today she could announce it to the world with pictures.

You guys know I don't exactly consider myself some fantastic photographer and especially not an editor, but this photoshoot is easily one of my favorites to date and I'm actually pretty proud of my editing efforts so I thought I'd share them both before telling you what she's having! (Note: Clicking the image will open to the full size version on Flickr)

If it's a Girl....

If it's a Girl If it's a Girl If it's a Girl If it's a Girl

If it's a Boy...

If it's a Boy If it's a Boy If it's a Boy If it's a Boy

And  so I am thrilled to announce that it's a boy! Gideon will have a little brother and I'll have another nephew. I am the happiest aunt right now.
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: I The Mighty - "Ivy"
04 June 2013 @ 01:14 pm
It probably isn’t a surprise that music plays a big part in the creation of my novels since I talk about the two constantly, but I’ve never really elaborated on exactly how music helps my books come alive.

Typically when I’m putting together a playlist for a book, I looks for songs that fit the mood of a scene or that come from a band my characters would likely listen to if they were real people. For example in Dreamsters, Harper’s favorite band is Mindless Self Indulgence, while Milo’s an all-out post-hardcore fan – there are a lot of both on the playlist as a result.

And while it is more common for my book playlists to have an eclectic mix of musical styling’s (much like my own taste in music), there are some books that have one particular sound throughout. Take Summer Novel for instance, it is strictly mellow, easy going, indie music.

More times than not, the songs on the playlist really have nothing to do with the actual story itself. So you might understand why it makes me crazy happy and excited to write ALL the words when I come across songs with lyrics so perfect, it’s like my characters whispered them to the band. For Dreamsters in particular (since it’s my current WIP), lyrics like:

I'm not scared, but this is happening.
I'm not afraid, but this is real (this is real).
It all comes at once; from every single direction.
This time I'm not (I’m not) sleeping at all.
How could this be real?
                    (A Fault Line, A Fault of Mine by Underoath)

How can I sleep, if I don’t have dreams, I just have nightmares?
                                        (Staying Up by The Neighbourhood)

When I wake up, I’m afraid somebody else might take my place.
When I wake up, I’m afraid somebody else might end up being me.
                                                (Afraid by The Neighbourhood)

I can’t help it.
I won’t let you bury yourself.
Bury yourself.
                                (Dancing on a Tightrope by I The Mighty)

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a song fits on entirely different books playlists, like there are quite a few of the same Underoath tracks on both Dreamsters and Crack the Sky, but they impact the story differently because of the way the character hears the tracks.

It’s also becoming common practice for me to use movie scores or other wordless tracks to write against, especially when I’m seeking a particular feeling that can’t be interrupted with lyrics. Since Dreamsters is a horror/thriller novel, I’ve used a lot of “spooky” tracks by Kevin MacLeod like Gloom Horizon to set the tone for the nightmares, but also to create just a general dreary or creepy demeanor in the day-to-day, tracks like Very Sick Girl from the movie Side Effects’ score or The Alchemist by Black Light Burns.

Funnily enough, there is even music that I can listen to no matter what I’m writing, but to date only one band has succeeded in this and I seriously have no idea what it is about them that makes them so universal. Wide Eyes, Sun Hands, Black Balloons, and Wooly Mammoth are all tracks by Local Natives that just make me want to write, write, write, no matter what it is.

So writerly people, do you listen to music while you write? Does it matter what you’re listening to? Does the music bring your story alive? I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. All track titles are clickable! :)
Current Music: Everything Everything - "Final Form"
02 June 2013 @ 04:10 pm
I've been pretty good at getting this post up on the 1st so far this year, but I guess my disappointment with last month's achievements (or lack thereof) had me in no rush to tell you all about it.  Still, facts must be shared so here it goes.

Writing was hard this month. HARD. And I spent far more hours trying than my word count might suggest. My word count was built in 200 word increments this month and it sucked. It's not that the story isn't all there, it's not that I don't know the in's and out's or that my characters have vanished from my mind - the right words just wouldn't come out of me. I'm tempted to blame the weather since it's gotten exceedingly hotter here now and you probably know I hate the heat by now and that statistically I write less in the summer, but I'm really trying not to let hot weather win this year. I want to write all year dammit and I'm determined to push through whatever is holding me back at the moment. Anyway, final word count for May: 3,208 - so disappointing to not even hit my 5K min. goal.

Reading wasn't much better, which isn't usually the case when my writing is low. I spent the first two weekends reading the same, unimpressive book - essentially wasting time I could have been reading better books and in truth, only one of the books I read in May really shined. Reading too many 'just okay' books in a row didn't exactly make me too jazzed up about spending free time reading. Not to mention, I was so stressed about my word count that I spent a lot of the time I'd usually be reading trying to write and failing.

May Reads

Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee
The Dead & the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
From Baghdad, With Love by Jay Kopelman
The New Language of Toys (3rd Edition) by Sue Schwartz [not pictured, educational]

*Titles take you to my GoodReads reviews*

So that was my month, mostly a letdown for me. I'm really hoping that June will be better and I'll somehow get back into the decent rhythm I've achieved so far this year. I think one of the most disappointing things about this month is that at the start of it, I realized that I'd already written 4K more words in the first 4 months of 2013 than I had in ALL of 2012. It's like I jinxed myself with this knowledge or something.

Anyway, enough moping. How was your May?

Current Music: The Neighbourhood - "Female Robbery"
31 May 2013 @ 09:44 pm
May was a weird month for me for music. As always, I had a lot of music at my disposal, but no matter how much I tried to listen to it early on, I just kept drifting back to old favorites by bands like States and Mindless Self Indulgence. I got back into my groove with new music, though, by the end of the month and went out with a bang.

Phantom Planet - "Jabberjaw"

Heather (edgyauthor) gifted me this album for my birthday thinking I would like it because they reminded her a bit of Arctic Monkeys (which she knows I love). I have to agree, they do remind me a bit of Arctic Monkeys, too, but even without the similarity, I'm pretty sure I would have loved this band.

Everything Everything - "Cough Cough"

This one is completely Maggie Stiefvater's (m_stiefvater) fault (and this isn't the first offense (I'm not mad about it, though)). I have no idea if this band is actually any good since I've yet to check out more because, you know, I've been too busy listening to this track 200+ times for that. I'll get to it eventually.

The Neighbourhood - "Sweater Weather"

In just a few days time, this band has become my favorite new music to report this month. I discovered this song and fell instantly in-love with it and figured I'd give the album a shot, but really didn't expect much. In case you're new here, I'll just start by saying that it is very rare for me to like every song on an album by anyone. I only have a handful of bands that qualify. So color me surprised when there wasn't one song on this album worth getting rid of on the iPod. And it goes further than just liking them all, I'm currently at the point where I can't stop listening to them. You should definitely give them a listen.

Other tracks that pleased my ear in May include:

Papa Roach - "Not the Beautiful"
Skylar Grey - "Words"
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"
Tegan & Sara - "Shock to your System"
I The Mighty - "Echoes"
Chevelle - "Same Old Trip"
The National - "Fireproof"

There are quite a few new releases coming out in June that I'm crazy excited for like new City and Colour, I The Mighty, and Beady Eye so I'm sure Music Friday in June will be full of awesome.

What have you guys been listening to lately?

Current Music: The Neighbourhood - "Sweater Weather"
25 May 2013 @ 05:56 pm

I’m not expecting anymore books this month so it seems like an okay time to post about May’s book purchases. Technically I should have just had the two pre-orders, but I had a strange urge to buy a few paperbacks (strange because I’m pretty much strictly a hardback kind of girl) and so I splurged.

IMG_2201 [50%]

Crash by Nicole Williams
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
Icons by Margaret Stohl

I only have one pre-order next month (Tessa Gratton’s The Lost Sun) and then it will be September before my second round of pre-orders start coming in again. I truly hope I can resist the urge to buy anything new between then and now (Lord knows I already have plenty to read in my possession), but we’ll see.

What books have you gotten recently?

Current Music: Everything Everything - "Cough Cough"
13 May 2013 @ 07:39 pm
What I'm about to write is definitely spoilery. I try to avoid this whenever possible, but there is no way around it this time. So if you have a desire to read the book or see the TV show and don't want to know the details beforehand, stop reading now.


In April, Netflix started advertising the release of this show Hemlock Grove. The cool thing about it being a Netflix original series is that they release all 13 episodes all at once so you don't have to wait week to week for more shows. As someone who prefers to watch TV shows in a marathon style, this alone intrigued me enough to check it out. Also, the trailer sold it pretty well, too with this wicked werewolf transformation. SEE!


So, obviously, I watched it. And I tore through all 13 episodes in two days because it was that good. The acting was stellar, it took place in this perfect fall, small town setting, and the characters were so strong I even shipped my first non-couple (Roman and Peter). Alongside this was a crazy plot that left you with more questions than answers with every episode that passed. You know there are werewolf gypsies, that much is clear, and characters being referred to as upir's (which I didn't know was some ancient Russian vampire, nor did they ever explore/clarify that), but those same characters were also referred to as dragons and angels. There's also some sort of Frankenstein character who couldn't speak, always had her hands wrapped up and glowed when her emotions were heightened, but you're never told she's a Frankenstein, I came up with this after some internet research. In the end, it isn't clear really what most of these characters are supposed to be and it frustrated the hell out of me. In addition to the lack of answers, the last two episodes were full of so much action and detail that it was rushed far too fast for the viewer to take in. It was enough information to stretch across at least four episodes. After watching this obsessively, to say I was disappointed with the ending would be an understatement. Still, even with all the questions I have, I still LOVED this show.

And so I'm desperately praying for a second season and ordered the book it's based on to read in the meantime in hopes that it'd resolve some of my questions from the show. Oh, boy, was this a mistake...


For starters, I learned nothing more from the book whatsoever. In fact, they seemed to add some details in the TV show that the book failed to include. And the book's ending was just as fast paced and confusing as the TV show. I can appreciate the fact that the TV show and the book's dialogue was almost word for word, but otherwise, the book fell so flat I literally fell asleep every time I sat down to read it, making it take far longer to finish than a book it's size should.

I hate to criticize grammatical errors in books because Lord knows I make a disturbing amount myself in my own writing, but seriously there were so many run-on sentences, so many instances where a comma was desperately needed, and then there were moments when the author seemed to forget they were writing in third person and like a pop up video interjected their own voice in first person with an opinion of the story or some footnote us readers should know without making it clear they were doing that. Hello, distraction. In addition to these annoying technicalities, the writing was stiff. It was like listening to someone with a monotone voice ramble on with big words that impress no one, about a topic the average person has no understanding of or interest in... eventually you just stop paying attention and this is why I fell asleep so often. I know that the things I loved about the show were present in the book, but they weren't appealing the way they were in the show - it was a lot of 'telling' instead of 'showing' and that's just not the kind of writing I'm into. Maybe I'm being too critical of the book because I loved the show so much, but I can't see myself even wanting to see the show had I read the book first.

Anyway, I just don't know how to feel about the whole thing now. I have yet to find any evidence of a planned continuation for this story whether it be by book or show and so I'm not sure if I'll just forever be left with these questions or not and it frustrates me. Any of you see this show or read this book? Care to weigh in with your thoughts?
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
Current Music: States - "Can't Explain"
01 May 2013 @ 08:54 am
I know I say this every month, but seriously where the heck did April go? I do not like the way time moves as an adult. I remember feeling like time moved so slow as a kid, now I’m desperate for it to slow the hell down.

There’s not much reason to separate this post with headers anymore since it’s withered down to just two topics now. Best of Music Friday can be found HERE and you can read about why Photography won’t be listed HERE.

I read a lot of really great books this month as pictured below. I had hoped to read more than this, but finding the balance between writing and reading in my free time is still a lopsided thing for me. All the titles below the picture are clickable and will take you to my GoodReads review if you’re interested.

IMG_2170 [50%]

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson, Book 4) by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson, Book 5) by Rick Riordan
Dead River by Cyn Balog
Inferno (Chronicles of Nick, Book 4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Breathless: A Firelight Novella by Sophie Jordan [not pictured, e-book]
The Walking Dead, Vol. 4 by Robert Kirkman

As for writing, I also hoped to write more than I did, but I’m not entirely disappointed with my word count this month either. Partly because it’s still over my minimum monthly goal of 5K and also because I closed up all the holes in the start of my MS. Dreamsters is now officially a little over 31K and this blows my mind in such a good way. Just a few months ago it was still a baby of a story. I’m really grateful for the cooler weather holding out for a change and blessing us with a chilly April. I have no doubt that it helped me stay focused on Dreamsters instead of letting Summer Novel butt its ugly head in before I was ready for it. I don’t know if I’ll be as lucky at the end of May, but I’ll certainly try really hard to keep Summer Novel at bay at least until June. Final April Word Count: 7,231 words

So that was my April, sort of mediocre, but not all that horrible really. How did you spend your April?
Current Music: Skylar Grey - "Words"