The Creativity Corner: Spring 2017

Can you believe that summer is here? 😮 It still feels like I was in Iceland last week. How on Earth has time zipped by so quickly??

Since a new season has begun, it’s time for an update on the past season’s creative happenings. And after a winter where I struggled with anxiety for a few weeks and my confidence in my writing hit rock-bottom, I’m happy to say that spring was a more productive, inspiring, and emotionally healthy season. It wasn’t free of bumps, but I’m moving forward and focused on new projects.

New projects?? What about The Keeper’s Curse? Or the novella? Yeah… I’ll explain what’s happening with them, too. But first…
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Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 80% Progress Report

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Plus, Five Non-Metal Songs That Appear on the WIP’s Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks 80% completion of Draft #3 with another progress report and more songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

This is it, guys. The finish line for Draft #3 is in sight!!

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Don’t worry. The WIP hasn’t gone up in flames. I just think this Incredibles GIF is adorable. 🙂

And it doesn’t seem like long since the last pair of Chronicles, right? Well, it’s not that the editing has picked up in speed. Rather, I couldn’t schedule the previous pair until 3 weeks after I’d passed the 60% mark. But thanks to my new blogging schedule, you’re getting this only 1 week after I passed 80%. 😉

(NOTE: Despite last week’s blogging schedule announcement, the second half of the 80% Chronicles pair will still post this Thursday, since it’s ready to go.)

As always with these progress reports, I’ll share Draft #3’s latest word count and what else made the past 20% of edits unique. Plus, I’m sharing five more tracks that currently appear on TKC’s novel playlist. So, shall we?
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5 on the 5th: Five Soothing Music Albums to Help You Relax

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On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it’s five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us an opportunity to talk about other subjects that aren’t normally discussed here at the blog. 

I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to music: symphonic metal, progressive rock, singer-songwriter, classical crossover… And over the past couple years, new age and instrumental music has woven its way into my iTunes library. While I can understand why some people would find this genre “boring,” I’ve grown to love it. New age instrumentals are now my go-to music picks when I’m working on blog articles – and they’re immensely helpful for meditating, stress relief, or winding down at the end of the day.

So, for today’s 5 on the 5th, I’d like to recommend Five Soothing Music Albums to Help You Relax, complete with links to each CD’s Amazon page and song clips on YouTube. If you like keyboards, acoustic guitars, and nature sounds, perhaps one or more of these gems will be perfect for playing in the background or for lulling you into a calmer, more peaceful state.
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My 10 Favorite Albums of 2014

If I could use one word to describe the music of 2014 for me, it would be “weird.” Firstly, it was a year of transition and rediscovery music-wise. In May, I left my music-reviewing post at Sonic Cathedral after 5½ years so I could concentrate on novel-writing and other creative pursuits. Suddenly I had more freedom – and time! – to listen to genres besides female-fronted rock and metal. That explains why this year’s Top 10 list features the most variety I’ve ever had in my end-of-year countdowns. Yay! 🙂

Secondly, the quality of 2014’s music took me on a bumpy rollercoaster ride. There were awesome surprises, huge disappointments, and an unusually high number of “in-betweens” that I needed to replay several times before knowing how I felt about them. And in some ways, my #1 pick summarizes my year of music: It tips its hat to my “head-banging” past while shocking the hell out of me – in the best way possible. In fact, I don’t think my SC colleagues would have seen this one coming (except for one – she knows who she is, because it’s all her fault *winks*).

Buckled in? Then let’s go! Continue reading

Chronicling The Craft: 90,000 Words

Part 2 of My WIP’s Music Playlist

Chapters Completed: 22

Chapters In Progress: 6

Chapters Not Started: 6

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the book reaching 90,000 words in length.

What?! How the… OK, I know I’ve said before that the 5,000-word milestones sometimes creep up on me, but I was completely unprepared for this one. Part of it may be because I’d been busy with all kinds of freelance and blog writing, and my head was so far removed from reality (not literally speaking, of course!) that it lost track of when I should start writing this Chronicle. So, I originally had no idea what topic to cover after giving the update. Thankfully an easy one came to mind. 😉

Here’s what I’ve worked on since the previous ChronicleContinue reading

Mini-Review Monday: David Arkenstone – “Celtic Garden”

David Arkenstone Celtic Garden

David Arkenstone – Celtic Garden

Rating: 4 /5

I stumbled on David Arkenstone’s newest album Celtic Garden when I heard a couple songs at a gift shop several weeks ago. With just that sampling, I was transported to another land by the American new age musician’s blend of rustic folk music, enchanting vocal and instrument solos, and cinematic inspiration. Celtic Garden wasn’t available for purchase then (the store had a pre-release promo copy), so I pre-ordered it from Amazon as soon as I got home. And after repeat listens to the CD, I’m still under its spell.

Celtic Garden pays tribute to celebrated Celtic and new age artists such as Loreena McKennitt, Enya, and Celtic Woman, as well as the music from the Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit films. Half of the tracks are instrumentals highlighted by violinist David Davidson, whose style ranges from playful (“Misty Morning”) to forlorn (“Nocturne”) to sweeping (“Misty Mountains / Song Of The Lonely Mountain”). His “duet” with Susan Craig Winsberg on flute and pennywhistle for “The Voice” evokes images of folk dancing and Ireland’s greenest meadows. The other half of Celtic Garden floats on the breeze of Charlee Brooks’ voice. She’s not a power singer by means, but that’s not what Celtic music is about. Instead, Charlee uses her gentle talents to charm the listener (“All Souls’ Night”), pray for compassion (“Deliver Me”), and pine for a distant lover (“Only An Ocean Away”).

Celtic Garden soothes me and speaks to my inner child. It entices me to relax, sing along, do yoga, even dance! (Yes, I’ve actually followed the urge and danced to this CD a few times!) I do, however, have a couple nitpicks. First, a couple tracks don’t come across as truly Celtic (“Misty Morning” sounds more like a nautical / pirate jaunt than an Irish jig, while “Safe and Sound” retains too much of the country twang from Taylor Swift’s original). Also, while the cover of Annie Lennox’s LOTR classic “Into The West” is well done, the song requires more power and emotion than Charlee’s voice can offer. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled that my recent gift store shopping led me to discovering David Arkenstone’s Celtic Garden. And I’m sure I’ll be visiting this breathtaking musical Eden time and time again.

Highlights: “Misty Mountains / Song of the Lonely Mountain,” “All Souls’ Night,” “The Voice”

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Deciding whether to buy Celtic Garden from Amazon? Let me know whether you found my review helpful by clicking here and selecting either “Yes” or “No.”

Coming Soon: No new CDs to review at the moment, so it might be a few weeks before the next Mini-Review Monday. However, stay tuned for a new Chronicling The Craft, as well as a special post in April that’s dedicated to National Poetry Month!