My Favorite Writing Music of 2013

To preface this post, I should apologize for being away so long. My trip to Australia was fabulous, and I’ll eventually put up photos on Facebook…though to be honest, I haven’t even looked at the photos we took yet. My husband tends to go overboard with the camera, and I think we took close to 3000 pictures in 2.5 weeks. Yeah. Not even exaggerating there.

NaNoWriMo was also fabulous for those two weeks that I participated. I was super pleased by what I managed to produce, and since getting back from my vacation, I’ve been hammering out even more words. Yay for recharging creativity!

So yes, drafting a new book has kept me away since I got back. I’ve also been planning/writing a blog series that I hope to put up in January. It was originally going to be just one post, but as I wrote, I found I had a lot to say on the subject. It’s all about embracing fears and not letting them block off your creativity (which has happened to me. Many times.), so it’s a good topic to start of 2014 with.

BUT, to close 2013, I wanted to share my favorite musical releases of the year. These are some of the albums I listened to on repeat while I was drafting all my various projects. Of course there were other albums I listened to as well, but the selections below are the ones that came out in 2013. Note: these aren’t in order of favorite but rather of when I discovered them throughout the year.

I hope you enjoy!

1. Classics, Vol. 1 by Two Steps from Hell

Let’s be honest. These guys (Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen) could pretty much scratch their nails on a chalkboard and I’d still be obsessed. (Somehow, they’d make it the most epic, empowering nail/chalkboard combo ever.)

Oh man, do I imagine some insane battle scenes to “Earth Rising”. Interstellar battles, naval, kaiju–whatever. This music is what I’m playing when I write those especially wild fight scenes. Though I usually start flying around my room pretending to fight the monsters myself when it hits the 1:37 mark. Not even joking.

“Birth of a Hero” makes me want to write about exactly what the title says: the rise of a hero. This piece gets especially epic at the 1:22 mark.

2. Pacific Rim Original Movie Score by Ramin Djawadi

So if you read my blog or follow me on Twitter, you know I’m obsessed with Pacific Rim. Sarah J. Maas and I have already planned out an elaborate fanfiction in which we are Jaeger copilots sent out to battle the nastiness from the portal.

There is literally no other piece of music on this planet that makes me want to kick more ass than the main theme to Pacific Rim. Slow-mo walking scene as Sarah and I board our Jaeger (named Heartless Glacier (don’t ask why))? Check. Wind from some unknown source in the shatterdome blowing through our perfect hair? Check. Monster-crushing badassery on the way? Oh hell yeah…

So “The Shatterdome” track is one of my faves because it just feels so sci-fi. I listen to it on repeat when I’m drafting The Starkillers. Well, I listen to this whole album on repeat, but especially “The Shatterdome”. I really like it when the chorus comes in at 1:35. Doesn’t it just sound like the marching music for an interstellar space fleet?

3. The Golden Age by Woodkid

I’ve professed my Woodkid love before. I got hooked after I heard “Iron” on the cinematic trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Revalations in 2011. Then, when his full album came out this year, I fell into an abyss in which I listened to NOTHING but Woodkid for about 3 weeks. Yeah, he’s that good.

Also, I should point out this is really the ONLY epic music I listen to that has lyrics.

Doesn’t that music + video make you want to write REALLY COOL FIGHT SCENES? It certainly does for me, and in my project Truthwitch, I have a character who is entirely based off Ezio in that one trailer. Peppery beard and all. 🙂

Okay, I’ve blasted my love for this song before, but it’s worth repeating: “Run Boy Run” is so emotionally moving that your heart will never feel the same again. Seriously. After the 1:13 mark, I become completely overcome by joy and power and awe.

Also, let’s discuss the AMAZINGNESS that is the music video. I literally cry every time I watch it. Just look at the joy on the boy’s face at the 3:12 mark.

4. Lindsey Stirling’s self-titled album

This girl is incredible. Her music, her dancing, her insane devotion to producing more…I am honestly wowed by her skills. And I just love her music. I mean, dubstep. Gah, it’s brilliant.

“Shadows” is one of my favorites to listen to when I write or–more often than not–when I cook dinner. The beat just gets me hopping around.

“Elements” is my definitely my favorite video and song by Lindsey Stirling. It’s just…ungh. LOOK AT THAT GIRL MOVE! And listen to how well everything fits with the music! I literally feel like a failed waste of life whenever I watch this video.

5. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Original Score by Brian Tyler

As anyone who knows me knows, I am obsessed with the Assassin’s Creed soundtracks. Every darn one is brilliant, and the latest one (IV: Black Flag) might be my most favorite of all (although this one, which hasn’t released yet, might even top Black Flag).

Despite the fact that Black Flag only recently came out, I have listened it to at least a hundred times in it’s entirety. It’s just the most PERFECT music for my story, Truthwitch, since so much of that book takes place at sea.

The theme song, HOLY CRAP. I love how it starts so elegantly, like a fine parlor room in 1715, and then it just goes all high-seas-adventure on you at the 1:05 mark.

This track, “Lay Aboard Lads”, is my second favorite on the entire soundtrack (though I really love the entire thing). I can so vividly imagine the build-up to a wild sword-fight, and then bam! At the 1:14 mark, let the great battle begin!

So there you have it–my favorite to-write-by music that released in 2013. And, just because I’m currently obsessed and can’t wait for the album to release in January, here’s some music to the upcoming Assassin’s Creed game (called Freedom Cry).

Now you tell me: what were your favorite musical releases of 2013?

Oh, and happy holidays!! I’ll see you in 2014! ♥

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NaNoWriMo 2013, Week 4!

Greatest Glory

We’re in the homestretch of NaNoWriMo, and I wanted to share the same pep talk I gave this time last year. Why? Because this time last year, we were all feeling EXACTLY THE SAME. We were all wondering what the heck we had gotten ourselves into and when the heck this was all going to end.

But you’re not alone.

Writing is never, EVER an easy process.

There are easy days, but most days are hard.

There are easy sentences and easy scenes, but most are a pain to squeeze out.

There are days when motivation and inspiration are bursting from your fingertips, but most days, it’s a trial to even sit at the computer.

There are novels that pour forth easily, but most novels are an agonizing process of labor and frustration.

And there are days that you love what you do and days you hate it.

It is okay.

You are not alone.

Whenever those hard moments strike–and they will be more often than not–you must simply say, “It’s okay because I refuse to give up.”

When a rejection from an agent rolls in again, you must say, “Okay, maybe next time” and then send out more query letters.

When a scene or character refuses to cooperate, you must say, “Okay, I’ll keep working until I get it sorted out.”

When your  motivation flags, you must say, “Okay. I will BICHOK anyway.”

When your publisher cancels your series, you must say, “Okay, I will write another series and then another until something else sells.”

When your crit partner or editor doesn’t like your book, you must say, “Okay, I will fix it until it’s good enough.”

When all of your friends get book deals or better deals than you, you must say, “Okay, it’s not a race. I will sell my book one day too.”

When things seem hard,

you must never, EVER give up.

I cannot count how many times I have met a “writer” who I knew would never get published. They claimed they loved to write and wanted to sell a book…one day. But if you really mean what you’re saying–if you actually WANT this publication dream enough to achieve it, then you can’t wait for “one day”. I don’t mean you shouldn’t wait for one day–I mean you CAN’T. It is in your blood to write, and by golly, nothing can keep you from the keyboard.

If you want to write,  then write right now.

Even after NaNo ends, keep going.

It’s okay, of course, if you don’t do it now. There will be many times in life when other things take priority over writing, and that’s FINE. But don’t expect to get published if you make your writing a low priority–or don’t prioritize it at all.

Writing is a job, and you must treat it as one to succeed.

To be a writer, you must be disciplined–yes, there is no denying this. But discipline can sometimes face obstacles.



More rejection.

Inspirational hiccups.



And always–always–more rejection.

But you cannot let these stop you.

Let your determination outweigh your impatience.

Let your determination outweigh your fear of failure.

Because in the end, the only thing that decides whether or not you succeed is YOU. Only you can choose when you have failed.

Yes, there are some who will achieve success through sheer dumb luck.

But most of us get there by sheer stubbornness. So…

And one day, you’ll get exactly where you want to be. 

You tell me: How is this last week of NaNoWriMo looking to you? Daunting? AWESOME?

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NaNoWriMo 2013, Week 3!


I imagine you’re all feeling worn out at this point. Maybe you’ve hit a slump or your really starting to hate the glare on your computer screen. Or–what I hope is happening–you feel fresh as spring rain and ready to keep TYPING.

But if you’re like me, you’ll be feeling pretty tuckered out after 2 weeks of hard work. But soon, my friends. Soon, you’ll reach the end, and you’ll be able to look back at ALL YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED and say, “Hell. Yeah. I did all that.”

You’re making mistakes; I’m making mistakes; and we’re all out there doing something.

Now get back to that keyboard and write. ♥

You tell me: How are you hanging in there? Any awesome accomplishments or especially treacherous drops you’d like to share?

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NaNoWriMo 2013, Week 2!

Every Path

Every path has its puddles. We just have to hop over them. Or power through. Possibly even scoot around.

But remember this: no one is going to show up and drape a coat over the puddle so you can cross un-splashed. You’re gonna have to get muddy, and that’s part of the fun. Tromp through. Embrace the mess. Stop for no puddles. And soon you’ll get back to a warm, cozy patch of trail unblocked.

*#NaNoCadets FIGHTING!*

You tell me: Have you hit any puddles yet? I totally have…Like, at least two. 😉

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NaNoWriMo 2013, Week 1!

Success is the Sum

Remember this quote. We may only be starting NaNoWriMo, but it’s our daily 1667 words–or whatever we manage to eke out each day–that will get us to the full 50K. And then onward, to the end of the novel. And then even further beyond after that.

Just keep typing, keep dreaming, and keep shooting for those stars.

You got this. I promise you do.

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Something Strange & Deadly, Dynamite Factory Playlist

I know I’ve said before that Chapter 19 is my favorite in Something Strange & Deadly. It’s not that I don’t love all the other chapters, but I actually wrote chapter 19 first.

Yep–it’s true! It was originally the opening scene in Something Strange & Deadly, and then the story jumped back to Eleanor waiting on her brother at the train station. OBVIOUSLY, that was a terrible way to open the book, and a wise critique partner quickly pointed out just how terrible.

But the fact remains that once-upon-a-time, Chapter 19 came first. So it’s special to me.

And because it’s special to me, I thought I’d share with YOU a playlist that goes along with the entire dynamite factory kerfuffle.

First, I’ll share the actual playlist so you can listen (and possibly be inspired to write your own stuff…?), and then I’ll break down which piece I associate with which pages. Happy listening!

(Read more…)

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Camp NaNoWriMo! We hold you in our hearts…

…and when we think about you, it makes us want to– Ah, Salute Your Shorts. A 90s gem, if I do say so myself. Ah, Camp NaNoWriMo, a 2013 gem, if I do say so myself. You guys know I’m a HUGE–like GIGANTO-BIG-HUGE-MONDO-ENORMOUS supporter of NaNoWriMo. I mean, I was even featured on their blog! Wha-whattttt! (No joke: that was a highlight of my life.)

The plain fact is, I love NaNo. There’s just something so INSPIRING about the camaraderie! About the intensity and deadline. Even if I don’t have anything that needs drafting, I participate in NaNo every single November.

Well, how lucky am that now that I do have something to be drafted (that ol’ epic fantasy WIP of mine ain’t gonna finish itself), it’s perfect timing for Camp NaNoWriMo! HUZZAH!!! (Read more…)

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A Conversation between Critique Partners: Trusting Your Own Work

So this isn’t really a conversation post this time–more like me adding onto Sarah’s last post. Mostly because she touched on something I feel very strongly about:

The idea that having a critique partner somehow means you don’t trust your own writing.

Just as Sarah said in her post: that’s not true. In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and (excuse my language) call bullshit on anyone who says something like that.

Because it is just so, so, SO wrong. Having a critique partner is a sure sign that you absolutely trust your writing. In fact, it means you trust it enough to think it’s actually shareable. It means you believe in yourself enough to want to improve as a storyteller. It means you know your manuscript is not the best yet, but that you’re willing to make it better.

And above all, it means you trust your critique partner’s writing. You trust your CP and believe in him/her so fully you are actually willing to use your valuable time to read their work and offer feedback. (Read more…)

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Writing is hard…

…so don’t give up. I don’t really have anything else to say today other than that. I’m in the middle of book 3 revisions, renovating my house, preparing lesson plans for the YAGB tour, and revising other books that have not yet sold. It all seems pretty overwhelming and insurmountable.

But it isn’t. It never is.

The thing is: you can’t stop working. And you can’t give up.

Writing is really hard. Revising is really hard too. And it doesn’t get easier just because you’re published or agented or have finished X-number of books or sold in 45 territories. More often than not, the writing just gets harder.

But don’t give up. You’ll get where you need to be; we all do.

And now, here’s some music to send you off to work by. It’s my current writing fave, and I hope you find it as uplifting as I do.

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My Current Jams

Rather than my usual trailer music, movie score, videogame soundtrack fare, I’ve been listening to some actual tunes with lyrics. I generally don’t keep up with modern bands, and at Edgefest, my friends Sarah J. Maas and Erin Bowman were getting pretty grumpy with my totally negative attitude toward new alternative rock (I think my issue is with the word “alternative” which I still associate with the grunge kids of the 90s. Yep, I’m that old).

Well, I take back my anti-modern-music declarations (hear that, Erin & Sarah? YOU WERE RIGHT) because I discovered two bands at Edgefest that I adore. Capital Cities makes me want to shimmy and slide (and they were the only band to get almost every author signing to dance!) while A Silent Film makes my heart all achy and tender.

(Read more…)

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