Happy Sunday, folks! I’ve successfully completed my first week of work as the front counter assistant at my local Boys and Girls Club, and now I’m ready for a little silliness. What could be better than a visit with some awesomely fuzzy animals at the petting zoo?
There were chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, and (my favorites) a pig, tortoise, and alpaca. I may have been more excited than all of the kids who were gathered there. 😛
Oliver, the cutest pig ever. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)
This baby goat was head-butting Oliver, the precious pig. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)
Baby, the alpaca who wouldn’t stop whining. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)
The alpaca pictured above had the strangest tendency to whine incessantly. It was such an uncanny noise that I had to take some video footage.
Isn’t it the cutest thing ever?
This week’s progress:
Day Job: I was a little stressed out about starting work this week, so I gave myself the week off from all dissertation-related activities. Starting tomorrow, though, I’ll be tackling the edits to my academic journal article, which are due on Friday.
Writing: I also decided to take a little time off here, as well. #teamsprinty is adding an evening writing sprint (7 pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern), so I’m going to be taking advantage of that in the week to come. My goal is to edit the next 2 chapters of TMNL, to get back on track.
Social Media: I used my mornings before work this week to work on blog posts (I know–even I’m shocked). I’ve got one queued up for tomorrow about the aerial scavenger hunt I took to an old WWII training camp, and an awesome video clip for Friday. I’ve also discovered the wonders of the WordPress app for iPhone, which makes commenting on blogs way easier.
So that’s about all for me right now! I’m looking forward to inching back into the world of blogging, digging into my research again, and making some progress with edits.
Okay, folks. It’s Friday, and I think we’re all probably in need of some end-of-the-week funnies. Christina Blanco’s rendition of ’80s classic, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” totally delivers.
There have been some great covers of this song in the past, notably the “Literal Video Version” from Funny or Die (seriously, if you haven’t seen this yet, you are missing out). Here, impressionist and comedian Christina Blanco performs the song in the style of 19 different divas: Adele, Cher, Judy Garland, Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth, Edith Piaf, Bette Midler, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel, Britney Spears, Shakira, Alanis Morissette, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand.
No, no, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about “The Fan,” this phenomenal commercial that Hugh did for Lipton Iced Tea earlier this year. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a while, and totally making my life.
For behind the scenes goodies from the commercial, check out this video.
Today’s post is brought to you by the voices in my head. Yes, my characters not only try to dictate my storylines and plots, but now they are conspiring to stage a coup and take over my blog posts as well. 🙂 Because Tempest Dumont, the main character of my steampunk WIP, TELL ME NO LIES, has demanded it, I’m going to talk about the music behind the story.
For anyone who’s unaware, TELL ME NO LIES is my crazy steampunk romance murder-myster, set in 1890s San Francisco (the Barbary Coast, to be specific). Tempest is a popular saloon singer who finds herself targeted by a mysterious serial killer who is bent on murdering those scandalous “ladies of the stage,” Jack-the-Ripper-style. The police refuse to believe that the murders are connected, and so she sets off on a one-woman crusade to find the killer and bring him to justice. Along the way, she receives the help of Adam Davenport, the one detective who believes her claims and wants to see justice served. The two of them are like oil and water, and they struggle to set aside their differences (and ignore the growing of attraction between them) to solve the murders.
Tempest is one of those characters who just won’t shut up. She’s incredibly different from my other main characters — loud, brassy, and cynical. She had a rough upbringing, ran away from home when she was 15, and ended up falling in love with a ne’er-do-well airship pirate who eventually broke her heart and tried to frame her for one of his crimes. Now she thinks that she’s heartless and incapable of love… but she just might be wrong.
The playlist has a distinct folk/country feel to it. Even though the tale takes place at the end of the 19th century when San Francisco has become refined and urban, there’s this residual “wild west” vibe that I can’t quite shake.
The first song that I’ll share with you is “Tennessee” by Gillian Welch (Lyrics). In so many ways, this is the definitive Tempest song, just from the first verse alone:
I kissed you ‘cause I’ve never been an angel
I learned to say hosannas on my knees
But they threw me out of Sunday school when I was 9
And the sisters said I did just as I pleased
Even so, I tried to be a good girl
It’s only what I want that makes me weak
I had no desire to be a child of sin
Then you went and pressed your whiskers to my cheek.
That scandalous, whiskered man? Gillian Welch is of course referring to Jack Davenport, the rakish airship pirate who broke Tempest’s heart and double-crossed her. In all seriousness, however, I love Gillian’s voice, and I am sorta convinced that this song was written for Tempest. It’s the perfect theme.
The second song is “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars (Lyrics).
Tempest is the sort of gal who doesn’t really believe in redemption, and who carries around a lot of baggage when it comes to dealing with her past. The chorus resonates with all those themes:
Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow
Devil’s gonna follow me ‘ever I go
Won’t do me no good, washing in the river
Can’t no preacherman save my soul
The final song isn’t folk or country, but pop — Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” (Lyrics).The entire album, Funhouse, is on the playlist, but this song is my favorite. Incidentally, I’m convinced that this may be the best awards show performance I’ve ever seen. Pink kills it here:
I love this song to the marrow of my bones. It is achingly beautiful, and the last lines of the song move me to tears sometimes:
Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and hold that rope tight
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
Will it ever get better than tonight?
This the song that plays in my head whenever I think of Tempest and Adam’s romance. They’re two souls who have been scarred, who are a bit bruised and broken, yet somehow fight their fears and allow themselves to be vulnerable to one another.
So there you have it, the music of TELL ME NO LIES. It’s not a definitive list by any means — I’ve provided that below, courtesy of Spotify — but I think these three songs capture the overall vibe of the novel. Just listening to them makes me want to drop everything and start working on it again — or maybe that’s just Tempest talking. 😉
Happy Sunday, friends! Before I get to my weekly ROW80 check-in, I’ve gotta say: I have the most amazing friends in the universe. Why? Not only are they supportive, caring, and a little crazy, they also fill my inbox with pictures and videos of baby animals and other silliness. Yesterday my Ultimate Best Friend Ever sent me this. Because I love you all, I am sharing it with you.
(I rather imagine that this is what #teamsprinty looks like after the end of an intense writing sprint…)
Not much to report here. I skipped the archives for a second week in a row so I could recover from the flu. I’ll be back at it on Tuesday, which means my focus will shift back to the dissertation. I’d like to do the following:
Sketch out a timeline to have my revised dissertation proposal finished by mid-March.
Finish ACROSS GOD’S FRONTIERS.
Figure out the best way to start annotating, coding, and organizing my notes from the archive.
WRITING: I’ve made some progress here, and I think breaking down my writing tasks in last week’s check-in was really helpful. I wrote a few thousand words towards TELL ME NO LIES, spent a few hours brainstorming, and took some time to go through previous drafts to salvage bits and pieces that I’d like to integrate into the final draft. I also wrote a couple thousand words of silly flash fiction pieces starring Pierce. They may end up becoming fodder for a romance novel one day, but for the moment, they’re just a fun exercise. For the week to come, I’d like to:
Take my list of settings and locations and continue to flesh out their descriptions.
Continue to explore supporting characters, like the Chinese crime lord who made an appearance in my brainstorming session last week (squee!).
Jot down any ideas that pop up for my other WIPs, but keep the focus on TMNL, for the moment, at least.
Okay, people, I wrote three blog posts this week. I know, let’s count ’em: 3. Even better, I made my goal for commenting/sharing blog posts. Success!
Here’s what happened on Flights of Fancy this week:
A knock-down, drag-’em-out fight between the baby platypus and the baby otter over my brand new Cute As a Sloth Award. There was a poll and everything, which is still open, FYI. Last I checked, the baby otter was winning by a landslide.
“The Old Ways,” a mid-week poem sparked by Ash Wednesday, which is apparently going to become a new feature on the blog. I say “apparently” because I hadn’t intended to do it, but then my muse was like, “Hey, you should make this a thing,” and I sort of shrugged and said, “Okay”… and that is more than you needed to know about my inner dialogue. 😛
My long-promised book review post, with a list of my 5 favorite books (so far) from 2013.
Not only do I have a ton of ideas for future posts boiling around in my head, I actually have drafts written for the upcoming week. Yay!
SELF-CARE: I’ve been working on being calm and relaxed for the last week, with mixed results. I’m mostly recovered from the flu, in that I am no longer feverish and dying, but I still get tired quickly. The last couple of days have been an exercise in not over-taxing myself.
I am partway through Natalie Goldberg’s WILD MIND, a wonderful book about writing and the writer’s life that I highly recommend. And because it’s Presidents’ Day weekend here in the US, I am rewatching the HBO miniseries John Adams, based on the biography written by David McCullough. For those of you who like history, I highly recommend it.
So yay! Lots of good things are happening, I am feeling creative, and there are many more good things to come. As a reminder, one of those wonderful things is WANACon, which will be held next weekend. Pop over to WANAMama Kristen Lamb’s blog for more info about the conferenceand the recently announced PAJAMACON, the bonus 3rd day of the conference. Yes, it really is as epic as it sounds.
My brand spankin’ new Cute As A Sloth award. (Photo adapted and used under Creative Commons from Asirap)
One of my not-so-guilty pleasures in life is collecting pictures of cute baby animals. I hoard them up, saving them for mopey days when I need something squee-worthy to boost my spirits.
As much as I love kittens and puppies, the sloth has spoiled me for most other animals.
Just look at it: the strange face and beady eyes, the too-long arms, the penchant for cuddling with stuffed animals and soft blankets. How can anyone deny that this is one of the cutest creatures in the world?
But that was until last week, when a couple of contenders for the prize of Cute As a Baby Sloth emerged: the baby otter and the baby platypus.
The trouble, friends, is that I can’t choose between them, so this is where you come in. Read on, then tell me which one you think should win my awesome award by voting in the poll.
The Baby Otter Baby otters are fuzzy. They squeak. They apparently cover their eyes and swim about, like this little otter pup below (doesn’t she look like she’s playing Marco Polo? Swoon.).
While they aren’t considered fully social creatures (they are pretty independent–hunting and foraging on their own, and not in packs), they spend a lot of time in groups known as “rafts,” and do extra-precious things like hold hands while they sleep.
The sea otter population is estimated to have once been as large as 150,000-200,000. Sadly, almost two centuries of being killed for their fur has dramatically reduced their numbers. While conservation efforts have restored the sea otter population up to 75% in some areas, they are still classified as an endangered species, and are at risk from pollution and oil spills.
But just look at those precious faces! Soooo teeny and cute!
The platypus is distinctive for a number of reasons. They are one of the few mammals that lay eggs rather than give birth. They’re poisonous–the male apparently has a spur on his hind foot that secretes venom. And with their flat duck-like bills, beaver-like tails, and strange feet, adult platypuses are really, really odd looking. Even better, they waddle when they walk, as we can see in the video below.
But what seems odd (and a little dangerous) in an adult platypus is precious in a baby. I mean, really, just look at how plump and squishy they are. Don’t you just want to cuddle it?
Nothing says “quirky” like running around with a lampshade crown.
In October, I participated in a wonderful poetry celebration known as OctPoWriMo. One of our early prompts was to write a poem inspired by the word “eccentric.” The creative process remains a mysterious one to me (and probably always will), but through whatever machinations of imagination and muse, “The Dangerous Weird” is the poem that emerged.
I wrote it thinking of all the wonderful people I know in my life who have weathered the storm of being seen as different, odd, less-than-normal. It’s a celebration of that amazing, dangerous weird within all of us, something I think that my online community of creative folk can appreciate.
This community is one that inspires me and encourages me towards all sorts of mischief, like rambling about my love of Hugh Jackman and sloths, or dancing around on tabletops with a lampshade on my head (as seen at the last #myWANA Twitter party). The chance to be fully myself, knowing that I’ll be accepted, is an incredibly rare one, and one for which I am truly grateful.
So this one’s for you, gang. Enjoy!
“The Dangerous Weird”
i am eccentric
because color tastes of
because history is
my dwelling place
i was a child with a calligraphy pen
my mother's borrowed
a collection of teapots
a girl enchanted
imagined elven revelries
worlds that exist only in my head
acne-cursed chubby sally-jesse-raphael-bespectacled awkward child
teased and tormented for the dangerous
(because idiot child bullies can't pronounce "eccentric"
and don't trust the abnormal)
but i am a forward-thinking girl
despite the obsession with dusty antiques
adulthood was my ticket to survival
honed and polished my weird
shined it up like the best silver serving set
to put on display for
(password: "kindred spirit")
today i find the peculiar ones
grownup off-beat children
catch them running through the rye
together we make a mountain of
a paradise of
to us, the song of color
the taste of word
is to be savored
time is neither linear nor measurable
and the world
eccentrics one and all
January 7th marks the start of a new round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” For those of you looking for more information about the challenge, you can find it here.
I’m waving a wildly enthusiastic hello to all my old ROW80 friends, and offering the warmest of welcomes to all the new folks joining in on this round. This community is one of the most supportive and welcoming that I’ve found online, and is one of the reasons that I’m participating in my 7th (!!!!) round.
For anyone who may have missed my first post of the year, I’ve declared that 2013 will be my year to “stop the cray.” I’m pulling the plug on negative thinking, nasty energy, and all the habits that cause me to sabotage my own success.
To aid me on this journey, I’m blasting my anthem song for the year, “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom,” by India.Arie. As she sings,
It’s time to step out on faith, I’ve gotta show my face
It’s been elusive for so long but freedom is mine today
I’ve gotta step out on faith, it’s time to show my face
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found
With a little strength, courage, and wisdom in my life, I’m launching myself towards two giant goals for the year: (1) completing (at least) one novel and (2) finishing the first draft of my dissertation.
I won’t lie. Just typing those giant goals makes me want to do this:
But if there’s anything I’ve learned with ROW80, it’s that identifying small, achievable goals goes a long way to helping me conquer seemingly insurmountable tasks. With that in mind, here are my overall goals for Round 1:
Finish dissertation proposal and have quarterly meeting with committee
Complete preliminary archival research at 4 out of 6 locations
Continue to write rough sketches of research memos based on collected data
Write 2-3 poems each week
Revisit TELL ME NO LIES and THE PEACOCK QUEEN; identify what needs to be tweaked/fixed/written in order to finish first drafts
Figure out Ultimate Editing Battle Plan (and which novel I feel like hanging out with–or if the answer to this question is “both”)
Write 1 ROW80 check-in post each Sunday, along with 2 non-ROW80 posts each week
Respond to all blog comments
Use weekends for catching up with Google Reader, Twitter, and Facebook
Visit 10 blogs each week to read, comment, and promote posts
Read 1 novel each week
Unplug when necessary
So there you have it, folks! Is everyone feeling rested and ready to go? Anything special y’all are looking forward to this year?
Tell me all about it in the comments, and be sure to swing by and wave hello to everyone else participating this round.
Erm… It’s December. Has anyone noticed that? And it’s not just December, but practically mid-December…
I suppose I shouldn’t be completely shocked, but I feel like it was just yesterday I crossed the 50k finish line for NaNoWriMo (a day early, I might add), and got this lovely shiny badge to affix to every possible surface online and off display proudly.
And now it’s holiday season! Decorations are going up around town, the local radio station is playing festive carols, and I am staying far, far away from all shopping centers, because mall parking lots during December must be a tenth circle of hell that Dante forgot to write about. However, I have been playing this video clip non-stop for the last few days, and it is giving me all the feels. Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon, the Roots, and a bunch of random little kids? Perfection.
Now that NaNo is through, and December is most definitely here, I figure it’s time for some amended goals for the remainder of this round of ROW80. Here’s what I have on the list…
Revise and submit my 25-page dissertation proposal to my committee by the end of December. The “official” proposal will be done by mid-January, and I will hopefully be able to amend that for a grant proposal due mid-February. This week’s mini-goal: Continue archive research, read sociological journal articles, start hammering out guiding dissertation questions and a theoretical framework.
Suspend fiction-writing till 2013, when the “Year of Edits” will begin in earnest. Aim for writing at least 3 poems each week, just to keep those skills sharp. This week’s mini-goal: Revise 1 poem, write 2 more.
Use my daily sprints over at the #ROW80 hashtag (11 am Pacific Time) for generating blog content, including posts for December and some for January. This week’s mini-goal: Complete 3 blog posts, not counting ROW80 check-ins.
There are still a million other thing I need to be doing–Twitter and Facebook? Reading other people’s blogs? Commenting on those blogs? Remembering to wash my hair?–but these are my biggest priorities at the moment. It’s all about baby steps, right?
How many of you have decided to alter your goals to accomodate the holiday season?
Oh boy, folks, it’s one of those Mondays. You know, the one where you just want a perpetual snooze button on the alarm clock. Or, even better, a timeturner a la Harry Potter, so that you can rewind back to the start of the weekend and have ALL the leisure time.
Sadly, neither of those are in the cards for me to day. In an attempt to beat back the Monday blues, I’m offering up one surefire solution: dancing Alan Rickman.
Best. Gif. Ever. From the film, "The Search for John Gissing," via watson-obliviate.tumblr.com
While Mr. Rickman’s current viral video involves his ability to make tea-drinking epic, I am a sucker for this oldie but goodie. His cameo appearance in Texas’ video for “In Demand” (one of my favorite songs) is nothing short of glorious. However, if you are in the mood for something amazingly cracktastic, I highly recommend “Too Sexy” Snape. 😛
Why are they dancing in a petrol station? I have absolutely no clue, but I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Enjoy, friends!
UPDATE: The awesome Lauren Garafalo asked me if there was an extended clip of the gif shown above, so I did a little digging and found this absolute gem. Again, it is from the closing credits of The Search for John Gissing, an indie film starring Alan Rickman, Mike Binder, and Janeane Garafalo. If you haven’t seen it, get yourself to Netflix and rent it.
Lena Corazon writes steampunk and fantasy novels, drinks far too much tea, and has an unhealthy obsession with Byronic heroes. She blogs about books, sparkly things, her masochistic relationship with academia, and anything else that tickles her fancy.