Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

That’s it for this writing post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Geeky Stuff

Cursed–Netflix Review ⚔️

Wanneer komt Cursed seizoen 2 op Netflix?

Hello again, bibliophiles!

I don’t do many reviews of movies and TV shows here, but I figured that I would pour out some thoughts for this one. After reading Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed back in April (and loving it), I figured that I would give the Netflix adaptation a try, since I didn’t have much else to watch save for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I’m steadily binging at the moment). I finished the show in about a week, and overall, I liked it–for the most part, a faithful adaptation, but at times, a forgettable one. I don’t regret watching it, but it’s nowhere near my favorite show.

Movie Review: The legend of King Arthur is reenvisioned in ...

In summary: Cursed is a 10-episode adaptation of Wheeler and Miller’s 2019 novel, a retelling of Arthurian legend before King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. It follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a Fey girl whose home has just been burned down by the Red Paladins, an army of monks bent on purging the Fey from Europe. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to deliver the Sword of Power to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and Nimue, fueled by anger at the slaughter of her family and people, sets off to find the famed wizard. Joining forces with Arthur (Devon Terrell), she goes in search of Merlin, only to discover that the sword that she wields may have a darker power than she could have ever imagined.

Alright, folks…below, I’ll break down what I liked and didn’t like, so be prepared for quite a bit of rambling! This review/breakdown may contain some spoilers, so be warned.

THE GREAT:

  • The opening title sequence and transitions: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The watercolor style was so detailed and beautiful, and it meshed so well with the general mood of the show.
  • The instrumental score: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: Jeff Russo can do no wrong. Though this score isn’t as notable as the ones he did for TV shows like FX’s Legion or Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, it was certainly a masterfully composed score, especially in the opening theme and some of the songs from the final two episodes.
  • The sets/filming locations: Every single location that Cursed was filmed in was such a joy to take in. The forest setting made for countless beautiful shots, and even the more fabricated ones, especially in the Fey refugee camp of Nemos, did volumes in immersing the viewer into the story.
  • Cast diversity: Kudos to Netflix for casting a variety of actors from all different backgrounds, from the protagonists to the side characters, for the show! There’s quite a few POC characters both at the forefront (ex. Arthur and Morgana) and in the background, so that was always good to see. There was some LGBTQ+ representation as well, which I’ve been going back and forth about. Morgana, one of the protagonists, is in a sapphic relationship with Celia, but in the first few episodes, Celia is killed when their nunnery burns down. She appears in later episodes, but as an…undead puppet of a spider demon. It’s dangerously close to the horrific “bury your gays” trope, but…yeah, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s set in Medieval Europe, and in a nunnery, no less, so the relationship likely wouldn’t have ended well even if it hadn’t burned down. On the other, Celia didn’t have to be killed off/resurrected for Morgana to have character development–Celia could have run off with her, and there still could have been tension there if she had joined her, Nimue, Arthur, and the rest. I’m still unsure about it, but at least they…tried. And I think there were a few LGBTQ+ couples present in the Fey camp in the background.
  • Faithfulness to the source material: For the most part, the Netflix adaptation followed the book closely, which was great to see! There’s a few tweaked details, but they didn’t bother me much at all.
3 Brand New Netflix Shows You Should Check Out This Month - My ...

Now, some of the characters/performances that I liked:

  • Arthur and Morgana: As brother and sister, they didn’t have the best chemistry, but individually, both their performances were good! Arthur was simultaneously bumbling and steadfast, just like I imagined him in the book. Morgana was similarly endearing, and they way that the show ended, I’m interested in seeing how they *might* continue her arc.
  • Merlin: A lot of the criticism that the book got was about Merlin, specifically about how they had massacred his character, making him a more arrogant man, and more than a bit of a drunkard. But even though I love Arthurian legend as much as the next person, I understood the change–Cursed is supposed to be a prequel to the events of these legends, and it would make sense for Merlin to be a younger, more disillusioned character, before he became the wise mentor figure that we know and love. Skarsgård’s performance was well-translated from the book, and I liked following his character.
  • Uther Pendragon: He’s exactly the kind of character that you love to hate. Pendragon was the perfect, whiny and overtly arrogant and hotheaded king to contrast with the other characters.
  • The Red Paladins: Though Sister Iris was a bit underused, the Red Paladins are just as chilling as they appear in the novel.

THE NOT-SO-GREAT:

  • …Nimue: I liked her character in the book, but Langford’s acting just felt…so flat, so lacking in emotion. I wanted to root for her, but there was such a lack of heart in the character that I could barely muster up any emotion.
  • The romance: They had this in the book as well, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it there, either. It felt like it was needlessly shoehorned in to appease the Teen™️ audience.
  • The gratuitous violence: Again, I suppose this means that it was faithful to the books, because the book was very violent, but it was definitely a bit much. Some of it felt like it was only added in for the shock value, and could have been cut out in the long run. Also, the effect of the blood splattering onto the camera lens works well in present day/more futuristic media, but it took away from the Medieval European setting.
  • The subplots: At least they got tied up at the end (somewhat), but they didn’t contribute to the story. Pym’s whole arc with the Red Spear felt wholly unnecessary, and just fan service that assumed that everyone would appreciate that they kept their comic relief character alive and giving her a romantic arc. Most of the Red Spear characters bugged me as well (especially the captain). The subplot with Morgana, Celia, and the spider demon was a little bit better, but it didn’t do much to the story, other than giving the allusion that Morgana might become more powerful than Nimue herself.
  • That awful song at the end of episode 9: OH GOD. OHHHH GOD. NOPE. Aside from being blatantly manufactured to be put in the show, it again took me out of the setting. I mean, it’s not like a medieval sea shanty would have worked any better for the scene, but I found myself rolling my eyes sky-high.
  • The acting: Even though I listed some of the good performances above, most of them were…good, but forgettable. Other than the characters listed, nobody quite stood out for me (save for Sister Iris). Decent, but nothing that blew me away.
Cursed' TV Show — Photos – Hollywood Life

Overall, Cursed wasn’t spectacular, but I don’t regret watching it. The filming locations, score, and transitions were gorgeous, and it mostly stayed true to the source material, but it was dragged down by a few unnecessary subplots and forgettable acting. I’d give it a solid 3/5.

★★★⭐︎⭐︎

Would I recommend it? I suppose I would. For all you fantasy lovers and fans of the original novel who don’t have much else to watch, I’d encourage you to give it a watch. As long as you have the stomach for quite a lot of violence, though.

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for this TV review! I hope you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 20-26, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week, and that you and your families are all safe and healthy.

[dons a pair of sunglasses] IT’S LEO SEASON…

Zodiac Sign Cat Sticker by Pusheen for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Aaaaaaanyway, I’d say that it’s been a nice week. I can’t believe July is almost over already…

I’ve been practicing with putting on my new contact lenses with…[ahem] varied results, but hey, I suppose these things take time. Even though my reading week started off disappointing, I got around to reading two good eARCs (I’ll review the other one next week). I’m SO CLOSE to being finished with my Iron Giant puzzle, and I finished my short story for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s nearly 10,000 words, and I think I made it appropriately depressing. I’m still working my way towards telling people coherent summaries of my various WIPs, but I will say that it’s a bit of a fairytale, and one that involves quite a lot of bad luck and an unexpected, amphibious child.

I also finished the Netflix adaptation of Cursed (expect a review of that soon), and I’m SO excited for season two of The Umbrella Academy!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, #3)–Genevieve Cogman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel Book 3 ...

Serpent and Dove–Shelby Mahurin (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA (Anthology)–Emily X.R. Pan et. al. (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading ...

Dustborn–Erin Bowman (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha, #2)–Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Legacy ...

Goddess in the Machine–Lora Beth Johnson

Amazon.com: Goddess in the Machine eBook: Johnson, Lora Beth ...

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors Book 3) eBook: Caine, Rachel ...

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Monday’s Not Coming–Tiffany D. Jackson

Amazon.com : [by Tiffany D Jackson] Monday's Not Coming Paperback ...

Today’s song:

Okay, I know that I’ve said that The Beatles should rarely be touched when it comes to covers, but THIS GIVES ME ALL THE CHILLS. LISA HANNIGAN AND JEFF RUSSO CAN DO NO WRONG, I SWEAR…

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (4/27/20)–Questions I Want to Ask You

goodreads monday header.jpg

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I haven’t given realistic fiction/contemporary books as much love on my Goodreads Monday posts, so I figured this book would be a good shift to that dynamic. Plus, I’d forgotten that this novel existed for a little while…

Let’s begin, shall we?

 

GOODREADS MONDAY (4/27/20)–QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU by Michelle Falkoff

Questions I Want to Ask You by Michelle Falkoff

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Patrick “Pack” Walsh may not know exactly where he’s going in life, but he’s happy where he is. He’s got a girlfriend who gets him. His single dad is his best friend. After graduation, he has a desk job lined up at the local crossfit gym, maybe he’ll even work his way up to trainer. He can’t see himself ever leaving the small town of Brooksby, MA. And he’s fine with that.

Then, on his eighteenth birthday, a letter from Pack’s mother changes everything.

Pack hits the road, searching for a mother he’s never known and a family he had no idea existed until now. His journey unearths questions about both of his parents that he never saw coming. And by the end of the summer, Pack has a whole different understanding of his past—and most importantly, where he wants his future to lead.

 

So why do I want to read this? 

First of all, even though the book is written by a woman, it’s nice to get a male perspective in a subgenre of YA that usually features more female protagonists. It’s always good to get that perspective.

And speaking of different perspectives, this seems like a fascinating journey–not only on the road to discovering the long-kept secrets of Patrick’s long-lost mother, but a journey in a mind that is wildly different from mine. It should be interesting to see how this character deals with this trek of self-discovery–a common theme in YA literature, but one that looks like it’s going to be dealt with in an inventive way.

Plus, the color scheme of the cover is *incredibly* pleasing, I love that cover art…

Deceit, Disrepair and Death Inside a Southern California Rental Empire

 

Today’s song:

[ahem] So I just finished the first season of Fargo last night, and I’ve all but lost the ability to form anything close to a coherent thought…AAAAAAAAA

 

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

thank you for reading.jpg