When NaNo arrives, even your leisure time needs to foster your creativity because, really, there isn’t such a thing as “free time” during the month of November for writers. Free time? *pauses at keyboard to cackle hysterically and then hurries to catch up with word count* It’s important to remain focused when you’re trying to nail that word count or make up for lost time. But when your brain feels like Jabba the Hut (a big blob of garbled noise), it’s time to take a mental break before you burn yourself out and can’t make sense of anything.
So how do you avoid brain mush while not totally losing your writing mindset? Aside from taking a walk or closing my eyes while listening to my writing playlist, one of my favorite ways to decompress during NaNo is to watch a film about writing. I can take a couple hours, have some popcorn or a cup of tea to refuel (no, coffee and I aren’t exclusive . . . not entirely), and let my mind relax while I absorb the stories of other writers. I have a few favorites that always do the trick, and if you’re ready for a mental break (or even have the time to read this post), give one or all of these a try and let me know what you think.
P.S. They also go really well with a cup of coffee during the other eleven months too. ^_~
Come on. Who didn’t want to be Joe March growing up? Clever, independent, creative, and an incredibly loyal sister. Growing up in a house with three sisters, I always felt that I could relate to Joe’s quirky ways, overly dramatic exclamations, positive outlook on life, and wandering mind that gets her into trouble. This movie is like comfort food for my writing soul! I’d also like to state for the record that I will always be #TeamTeddy. ^_~
You’ve Got Mail
There’s just something about movies set in fall that make me happy and nostalgic, and this is one of my all-time favorite movies. The entire premise of the film is about preserving the past, creating a future, and centers around the rocky romance between two opposing bookstore owners (the pragmatic Tom Hanks, and the hopeless dreamer played by Meg Ryan). Plus, I visited a few spots from this film when I was in New York, and those are some of my favorite memories.
This has been one of my favorite movies for years. Not only is Tom Selleck young and hilarious, but he plays a mystery writer caught in a rut (#relatable?). The quirky fun starts when he becomes enchanted with a young Romanian woman he believes to be innocent of murder, and he gives her a false alibi and a home to stay in. Her alluring and often mysterious behavior ignites a spark in his writing, though he soon wonders if he let a murderess into his home. Selleck’s character lives vicariously through the super-suave Peter Swift in his stories, and the way the scenes in reality are (excitingly) portrayed by his ultra-cool voiceovers is ridiculously funny.
Not Another Happy Ending
My sister DeAnna found this movie while scrolling through Netflix one day, started it up, and five minutes later told me I had to watch it. It’s a totally offbeat film about a Scottish writer (Karen Gillan) and her uber-handsome French publisher. When her life is going perfectly and her inspiration is no longer fed by real-life angst, she gets into a rut on the last chapter of her much-anticipated second novel. Her publisher realizes that the only way to get the ending from her is to, well, ruin her happiness. This movie will have writers and non-writers alike busting up from the pure, fluffy joy of it.
*whistles opening tune* If you haven’t heard of this show . . . I just don’t even know how to respond. It centers on the story of Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion from Firefly), a New York Time’s bestselling author who teams up with detective Kate Beckett (does anyone recognize Stana Katic from Quantom of Solace??!!!) to solve crime. One of my favorite crime-solving duos of all time, along with Sherlock & Watson from the movies and Elementary, and Shawn & Gus from Psych. The show packs fabulous mystery, hilarious moments, and some delicious writer touches that make it binge-worthy.
Other movies to look out for:
True Memoires of an International Assassin (a Netflix original)
Kate and Leopold
Alex and Emma
Well, I guess now the choice is which one I’ll start with tonight!
The following words are not a call to arms against procrastination, nor encouragement to pick up your swords (pens) and ride at dawn (get that novel done!). Nay, dear weary travelers, this is a post about the different ways I like to procrastinate because, honestly, we could all use a self-imposed break once in a while.
I have a slew of author events and writing deadlines this month that I have to tackle (*cough* preferably before deadlines *warily eyes to-do pile* *hides*), but somehow I kept finding things to occupy my time. Granted, these tasks also needed to be vanquished, and I felt a sense of accomplishment in doing so, but then there are the other . . . unmentionable distractions (TV, painting my nails, Instagram—okay, so maybe not quite so unmentionable). Incidentally, I might have procrastinated this post by getting some actual writing done in Jungle Princess, so maybe a little mental R&R was just what the Eleventh Doctor ordered.
1.Reading: I like to think of it as “research.”
2.Cleaning: I can go *guilty, shifty-eyes* a while without dusting or vacuuming when I’m in the writing zone, but when I sit down to write and get blocked, I’m like, “Hmm. I should paint the baseboards . . . and re-hang that picture . . . and reupholster the chair.”
3. Organizing my bookshelves, because I couldn’t possibly write with books that are slightly askew.
4. BAKING: Cookies. Are. Life! Also, cake, pie, scones, flatbreads, main dishes. Really, anything that requires me stepping away from what I should actually be doing. But, honestly, it isn’t healthy to plot and brainstorm on an empty stomach, so . . .
5. New stories: There’s nothing like having a deadline on your current work in progress and being inspired to write six other standalone novels.
6. Blog-Binge: Check out this hilarious post by Nadine Brandes on a shower assassination (here), and this one about Katie Erickson’s third-year in the blogisphere (here).
7. My memory also becomes really sharp when I feel like procrastinating, and I can recall things from fifteen years ago that I’m suddenly inspired to find in some long-forgotten place, or remember that to-do list I neglected to complete . . . in 2003.
Well, there are plenty more, but you get the idea. Now that I’ve exercised my procrastination muscles—gotta keep ‘em sharp!—I feel mentally capable of and excited to return to the jungle with Julia and Taran.
Because last month was such a whirlwind, I didn’t have the chance to properly celebrate Defying Shadows’ FIRST birthday. Egad! In honor of my youngest book child’s birthday, I wanted to celebrate by giving away a copy of Defying Shadows and fabulous swag and goodies to one lucky winner. You can also enter the Rafflecopter herefor an ebook of your choice from the Rising Shadows trilogy and a $20 Amazon gift card. There will be another link at the end of this post for the Rafflecopter, but first, onto the Grand Prize, because goodies and swag and books are what we really want….
GRAND PRIZE –Defying Shadows paperback, with my favorite quotes and moments underlined (baby needs a new home!!!!) -Little Karen magnetic bookmark from Magic Bookmarks (because we all need a best friend!) –Defying Shadows bookmark -notepad for your ideas and inspiration –Defying Shadows pen -my favorite writing snacks!
HOW TO ENTER: -use #defyingshadowsturns1 in your sharing, and/or tag @townsendtales -share about the Rafflecopter (1 entry per share, but be sure to tag me) -share this pic on social media with the hashtags (1 entry, unlimited shares) -tag a friend/friends on this pic around social media each day! (1 entry for each tag) BONUS ENTRIES: -use #TeamHood when sharing series related pics/quotes (1 bonus entry per day)
Open to U.S. residents only, and giveaway ends 8-13-17 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Good luck, friends!😊
One beat or pulsing rhythm or lyric that catches on my heart strings, and I’m hooked on a song. My sister Katie (follow her blog Books and Wonderful Things!) brought a random song from Florence and the Machine to my attention while I was writing Chasing Shadows, and the chorus and a single line in the bridge of “Heavy in Your Arms” inspired the waterfall scene between Jade and Will (“The one who creeps in corridors and doesn’t make a sound.” Come on, people!). Sometimes when I get blocked, I take a break, close my eyes and just nap in the sunshine and listen to music. I’ve overcome many a writing stump by absorbing the tone and lyrics of random songs.
My writing playlist consists of about 150 inspiring songs in all sorts of genres so that there is something to fit any scene (romantic, intense, moody, tragic). But there is always one lyric or beat or chorus that so perfectly encompasses the entire mood of a chapter that, before I realize it, the repeat button has been pressed, and I listen to nothing but that song as it inspires the setting and the way I write, even how the characters respond to one another. Some music causes me to pound away at the keyboard as swords clash and arrows fly, while sweeter melodies make me slow down and smile as I pen a romantic interlude (ooh, interludes! ^_~). Music is, essentially, the backbone behind life and every story, if you listen close enough to the birds, the wind, and “every breaking wave” (*cough* U2 reference *cough*).
Since there is one specific song that really stuck out to me as being the lifeblood behind each chapter, I had to share with you the melodies that inspired Defying Shadows. If you’ve read the book, then you’re probably freaking out because you’re reliving every laugh and tear and emotional tidal wave that you experienced while reading the book. If you haven’t started Defying Shadows yet, then find it here so you know why this playlist is perfect.
Ah, yes, NaNoWriMo. A time during the month of November when authors attempt to climb the tip of Everest in the form of reaching a *cough* small goal of 50,000 words in their WIP (work in progress). A time when writers gain 20 lbs from sitting around, act emotionally unstable and irritable, down more caffeine than is deemed medically safe, start crying at random after looking blissfully inspired a moment before, eat their weight in chocolate, and are finally committed (for crimes that our search engines inspired when we called it “research”). Basically, it’s like the Hunger Games for writers: Let the WriMo begin! And may the word count be ever in your favor. . . . (My sisters and I are going to see Mockingjay Part 2 next week at this incredible theater with recliner chairs, so it’s kind of on my mind. ^_^)
An update on my progress so far of 50,000 words: You can see on my Facebook page that I did a brief update on my word count (15,000), which I felt pretty awesome about, considering work and life have been crazy lately and I haven’t had nearly as much time to write as I’d like. But then my last math class from three years ago kept nudging me to use basic mathematics, which was a little depressing.
“If Susan’s goal is to reach 50,000 words in 30 days (apx. 1,667 words per day), and in 13 days Susan has only hit 15,000 words, then her average per-day word count is 1,100 per day. Susan is currently 500 words behind schedule x 13 days= 6,500, which means Susan is in trouble.”
Yeah, I don’t like math, either. o.0 Please excuse me while I hole myself up in my room and have food and water delivered by a mute to avoid distractions. But before I disappear from the land of the living and immerse myself in the fantasy world of Serimone/other realms, here is a series of pictures and gifs that explain NaNoWriMo process.
The beginning: Innocent excitement and total absorption by your WIP
Then you realize that keeping a regular schedule isn’t as easy as you thought and slack off a little
And then distractions come when you’ve been away from the world too long
Suddenly, you realize November is almost over and pull out every last trick in the book (it doesn’t matter if your fantasy novel turned into a spy saga set in ancient times on the moon–just FINISH!!)
Towards November 28th as you start to lose it: KEEP IT TOGETHER!!!
And at the end of it all, NaNoWriMo can be summed up in one gif
And you didn’t think that in all the craziness I forgot #FanArtFriday, did you? *maniacal cackle* Silly goose! I might forget to put on real pants or take my fuzzy slippers off when I go out in public during November, but I never forget anything associated with my stories. . . . Unless, of course, that brilliant inspiration comes at 4am and I don’t have paper, and I assure myself that it’s so earth-shaking and incredible that I’ll definitely remember–only to wake up the next morning with a vague inclination that I might have had an epiphany the night before. Anyway, this is probably one of my favorite pieces, because this scene just gives me the feels. Enjoy guys!
What’s this? Fan Art Friday on a Friday?!!!! Imagine that. ^_~ So this is the last Friday of Chasing Shadows‘ birth month, where we celebrated a year of reading by giving away copies of Chasing Shadows, swag, gift cards, plenty of fan art, and also new pieces of art created for Defying Shadows that I released every week. This next piece of art was designed specifically to torture you guys, but I have a couple things to cover before I get into the gorgeousness that has been created for the final “official” Fan Art Friday. But fret not, dear Hooders! There will be more agony and tempting teasers to come, especially since four Fridays of fan art is certainly not enough for my liking. 😉
The winners of the Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration all received their packages–yay!–and posted pics of their prizes on Twitter. I hope you enjoy the series, ladies! #TeamHood
Also, my good friend and award-winning author (and dancer!) Nadine Brandes recently released her second book in her Out of Time series, a Christian dystopian trilogy that is absolutely incredible. A Time to Speak is amazing, moving, and all around a fantastic ride. You can order your copy on Amazon here, and if you haven’t yet read A Time to Die, you can find it here. Keep an eye out for my name in the acknowledgements page on Book I; yes, I did get to read these books before anyone else, and let me tell you, they were just as powerful and entertaining the second and third time around. You won’t want to miss them!
And some of you know that I got to work directly with Roan Carter on the cover of Chasing Shadows, which was amazing to be able to have total creative control of a project that meant so much to me. But yesterday, I had the pleasure of literally getting hands-on training in the creative process of cover designing by Lisa M., also known as the Elegant Stylus on Facebook and Etsy. I always imagined that artists spent all their time immersed in creative projects in little elvish caves far below ground, with candles for mood lighting and dramatic music echoing through their little hovel of creativity. Not so. We spent the afternoon with our feet propped up on the ottoman, munching on snacks while we researched fonts and played around with images and lighting and fangirled over our little project. It was the best crash-course in designing ever! Lisa is currently in the process of making me drool and giggle and squeal every five minutes with her designs for the cover of Defying Shadows. You’re going to be blown away!
And, finally, today’s Fan Art Friday reveal:
Care for another little teaser? How about a quote between booooop and booooopthat shortly follows this scene (I can’t tell you who’s involved in the conversation–that would be cheating!).
“No, not goodbye. It will never be goodbye between us.”
“What then?” she asked, voice catching. “How are we supposed to do this?”
He smiled softly, though his eyes filled with tears. She felt the band tighten painfully around her heart at the thought that this would be the last time she ever looked into those eyes or felt his hand on her cheek. Inhaling a shuddering breath, he whispered, “I shall see you in my dreams.”