Saturday, April 8, 2017

Soothing the Savage Beast

About a year ago, I put up a blog about Writer’s Block and how I break through it when I’m writing.  I mentioned the Zone, that lovely Zen place in which words flow out of my fingers like magic, and I’m in a kind of hypnotic state with my ears full of music.  Because music, my friends, is my wingman. 

When I was a senior in high school, I took an Advanced Placement course in Music Listening.  It was probably the best class I’ve ever taken.  The teacher taught us all how to listen – really listen – to the classical songs she’d play on her old record player.  She’d turn out the lights, make us put our heads down on the desk, and immerse ourselves in the chords and the arpeggios, and visualize the violins on the left and the woodwinds on the right.  It was the one class that I completely aced and earned me one full set of college credits when I took the AP test.

I like all music (well, except for that rap crap, which is rape to my ears), but there’s only one kind I listen to when I write.  I’m not talking any music that you sing along to.  That interrupts the flow.  I’m talking about soundtrack scores.  I’ve been a John Williams fan since I first saw Star Wars.  Who doesn’t know that soaring, familiar theme?  He’s also the magician behind Raiders of the Lost Ark (I know every single note of this soundtrack, including percussion), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Home Alone.  He has been my muse for many, many years, and to this day remains one of the jewels in my triple crown of soundtrack scores.  The others are the late, great John Barry (Somewhere in Time, Out of Africa, The Deep, etc.) and the Wagner-esque dynamo that is Maestro Hans Zimmer (Inception, Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The DaVinci Code, etc.).  And Ramin Djawadi is standing by with all six seasons of Game of Thrones on a velvet pillow, just waiting for me to grab one of them…Season 6 is my favorite so far.

When I sit down to write a new section, I prefer long stretches of music without any real perceivable melody, just 10-minute passages of soothing violin, piano, and synthesizer…Okay, okay, so things like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark have a melody.  But those are recognizable enough that you are tapping your foot in time to the music, and picturing scenes from the movie.  I’m talking tracks that get into your head and your imagination takes root.  I can close my eyes, detach my brain stem from the rest of my body, and literally let my fingers do the walking across my keyboard. 

Here are some of my favorites.

Hans Zimmer – "Chevaliers de Sangreal" from The DaVinci Code.  
My eyes slide shut of their own accord to absorb this.  Quite possibly one of the most perfect tracks ever written.

Hans Zimmer – "Time" from Inception.  This movie was fucking epic to begin with, and the entire soundtrack is on my writing playlist.  This track, however, got me through the aftermath of a difficult battle scenes.

John Williams – "The Fortress of Solitude" from Superman.  One of the products of my teen years.  I used to play it on my stereo to fall asleep.  I was usually out by the 6:00 mark.  The end of it used to wake me, though, dammit...but today, it is a one-way ticket to the Zone.

John Barry – Theme from Somewhere in Time.  If there is a movie out there that will make me cry every damned time I see it, it's this one.  This particular track holds a very special place in my heart and I always break it out for love scenes.

Ramin Djawadi – "Mhysa" from Game of Thrones, Season 3.  Damn.  Just...damn.  When you need a heroic return from battle scene, here's your boy, serving it up.

Lee Holdridge – "Finale from East of Eden."  It took me 9 goddamn years to find out what this song was called.  (This was before the wonders of smartphones and apps like Shazam.)  David Copperfield used it in his 1991 TV special (Flying - Live the Dream) and I scoured Tower Records for it.  I love it so much that I used it as our entrance music at our wedding reception.  Another good one for romantic scenes.

Vangelis – "Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria (Into Eternity)" from 1492: Conquest of Paradise.  When you need a long stretch of uninterrupted writing time, and need to send your imagination winging...this 13-minute track is the best.  

I can’t believe some of the stuff that comes out of my head when it’s soothed by these guys.  

At any rate, I’m listening to Hans Zimmer's Interstellar right now and my fingers are itching.  I’m off to the Zone.  Downbeat, Maestro…one new chapter coming up.

- Rebecca

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saints and Begorrah!

Click on the "Purchase Our Books" button above, then click on your store of choice under each book - Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, or Barnes & Noble!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Spring Cleaning

It’s been a while since I got a second to post in here, and I thought I’d better before Google decides it’s an empty warehouse and yanks it from their servers.  I’ve been cleaning.  It’s been eye-opening.  And eye-watering, from all the dust.

Ever wonder how you accumulate so much crap over the years?  I know there’s such a thing as keeping things for sentimental reasons, but seriously…how many family Christmas cards do you need to open and sigh over before you have enough boxes of them to build a jet hanger?  How many stuffed animals do you need to coo over (“Ohhhh, look at widdle teddy!”) before widdle teddy smothers you one night in your sleep?  Last week I just had to grab my past by its balls – or whatever appendage it has – and say, in the immortal words of Queen Elsa of Arendelle, “Let It Go.”

Image result for elsa let it go
Get that crap outta my house.
The purge began slowly, and the first thing that went was probably 15 years of dust on my desk in the hallway.  Hey, I don’t dust unless I absolutely have to.  With three cats in the house, it’s fruitless.  So, armed with my trusty vacuum cleaner (which scares the living shit out of the cats, and kept them out of my way), I sucked up nearly an entire canister of dust, dead stinkbugs, and unidentifiable sprinklings of questionable substances.  Then I went through 2 bottles of Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner Spray – which just let me spray everything because I was too damned lazy to go find the Windex and Old English and all the other cleaners – and several dusting cloths, which had to be thrown away because God knows my laundry machine would have run screaming for hills when it saw the amount of crud it was to clean off of these things. 

Two days later, I had four boxes of old video tapes that we hadn’t watched in years, another of books that had lost their charm (seriously, who reads The Chronicles of Narnia in chronological order?), stuffed animals, jewelry I never wear, old tools, stationery (remember how we used to write actual letters to people?), and lots and lots of other stuff.  I was pretty proud of my accomplishment and was ready to turn everything in to Goodwill that afternoon.  But in this cleaning journey, I found out that even though letting go of some of your past is necessary, other parts of it just have to stay.

I found out that I had several miniature piano figurines, two of which were matching music boxes that played “Memory” from Cats.  One of them has my name engraved on it.  I have no idea who gave them to me, but when I wound one up and it tinkled out that lovely song, I cleaned it and set it back on the shelf. Another had gorgeous Chinese enamel that had been buried under the aforementioned dust, and was lined with golden silk.  Inside was a charm pendant with my initials carved on it, which I realized my mother had given me for my high school graduation.  I always wondered what had happened to it, and always assumed it had fallen off of one of my necklaces.  Needless to say, that went into my jewelry box immediately.

Underneath the clutter on my desk (which included my Bingo basket, a Mickey Mouse hat, and a small fire extinguisher, for starters) were several of those little cards they give out at funeral homes when you go to a viewing.  I can never throw these away, it just seems wrong to do so.  I always put them in my big desk Bible, along with obituaries, in the section with Psalm 23, so that's where these went too.

A box under my desk was covered in cobwebs and dust.  Inside was every award I have ever won at work, including pictures of me receiving such awards with old bosses, some of whom have died.  They were restacked in the now-clean box, and the pictures were carefully stored in a folder beside them.   

Two old dolls on one of the bookshelves were dressed in Disney princess gowns that I’d purchased back in the late 90’s.  The dresses were so covered in dust that they needed to be vacuumed off, and they pretty much disintegrated when I tried.  I remembered I had a box somewhere with these dolls’ dresses in it – something I’ve had since I was 7 years old and hadn’t opened in God knows when.  After about 20 minutes of searching, I finally found it, under my bed, and it was hilarious to see the old “Keep Out!  This Means You!” signs and stickers I had all over it.  Inside were three old baby blankets – one that my grandmother had knitted, and two that my sister used to use in her doll pram when we were very little.  There were all the clothes, all made by my grandmother – capes, dresses, shoes.  I sat there for a long time, unfolding and holding up little doll dresses.  I also saw there were miniature dolls tucked in the corner, swaddled, with heads on a Swiss-dotted doll pram pillow, and wee little stuffed animals – a bunny and a chick – “sleeping” beside them, and recalled that all of my dolls used to have dolls and toys of their own.  They were still tucked in.  They’d been like that for years.  I suddenly had a childish impulse that if I moved them, I’d wake them up, and I couldn’t bear to do that.

I found two little matching dresses and took a long time dressing these old dolls, combing their hair, putting on their shoes.  I put them back in their holders and set them back on the book case and on impulse, I stuck their hands together.  I swear they smiled at me.  A week later, they’re still holding hands, and I smile back as I walk past.

Memories are something, aren’t they? 

And yes, I found about 10 family Christmas cards…and yes, they’re going in the box in the shed.  I have two boxes full, and this one’s about full.  Some things just can’t be tossed.  Guess I’d better start on that jet hanger.

Enjoy your own spring cleaning journey.


Monday, November 21, 2016

New Covers!

Check out our new covers, y'all!  We decided to go with uniformity - one of our new characters has ouroboros tattoos, and a friend of ours thought that would make a good frame.  So we give you the new Dragonscale look...Sweet, eh?

Book IV's cover will be a sweet shade of blue.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Norovirus and You!

Hi guys, it’s autumn again!  Smell that autumn spice, drink that pumpkin coffee, watch the leaves turn colors, and gear up your immune system for another onslaught of bugs, boogums, and mitochondria-bursting germs.  I find that Rya and I like to write about when we’re sick, because hell, it’s funny after the fact.  During the illness, we want to kill someone…but afterwards, it becomes the fodder of many a blog post, if Google can be believed.  Which it can’t.  Or maybe it can.  Whatever.

Anyhow, while perusing my Facebook wall last week, I came across a post from my cousin (who happens to work at the same place as I do) asking, “Does anyone know anything about a stomach virus at work?”  I thought, “oh, that’s great,” and kept going.

Guess what.  The stomach virus is at work.  How do I know?  Because I have it now. 

Oh dear God, help me.
Now I am a pretty meticulously clean individual, I wash my hands a LOT (to the point where my skin is dried out), I shower every day, I do my laundry faithfully, and I am not the type that smells like a sweaty gym when you pass me.  And yet still I end up infiltrating my cellular pool with disgusting crud that exits my body in one holy hell of an ugly, ugly mess.

Everyone knows that awful feeling of waking up from a dead sleep with that tiny “oh, God, no” realization that the gears in your stomach will be reversing at any second.  And you stumble (why do you always stumble?) to the bathroom, knowing you’re not going to make it in time, but somehow do…and then the world spins as your guts cheerfully turn inside out and you’re certain your head will explode with the force of the churning, horrendous chaos bolting from your mouth and nose, and searing your tissues to ashes with the resulting Niagara Falls blast of stomach acid.  And if you’re lucky enough for it to also be blaring from the other end like the Space Shuttle taking off, well, then, my friend, you’re in for a Lovely Night.

My so-called Lovely Night finally deposited me in the emergency room around 2:30am on Sunday in a dehydrated, gasping mess.  The lady behind the counter took in my bedraggled appearance, clutching a bucket, wobbling in place, and sweating profusely, and cheerfully told me to take a seat in the waiting room with the other unfortunates.  Six hours later (we won’t discuss the definition of “emergency” here), I came home, pumped full of liquids and anti-nausea meds, and fell into a dead sleep for about 12 hours.  I’m now twice as rumpled, sick to death of Gatorade and Jello, and have a headache that would make Chuck Norris cry like a little bitch. But no vomiting and no explosive...well, let's just say the Shuttle is back in the hangar.  (Thank God.)

I came across a list of things people say when you have a stomach virus, things they should never say.  Remember Chuck Norris crying like a little bitch?  That’s cake walk in comparison what the sick person will do to you.  I am in full agreement.

1. You’ll probably lose some weight, haha!

Haha. Oh, how original, you made a funny. Think of how much weight you’ll gain when your lip is so huge from where my fist connected with it that you have to drag it around behind you.  Giggles.  Tee-hee.

2. Oh, just take some Pepto-Bismol, GAHD.

I’d love to take some, if it would stay down, asshole. Allow me to shove the bottle down your throat. Oooh, take a big chug now, don’t choke...GAAHD.

3. Ew, like I can’t stand it when people throw up.  Like, gross, if they throw up then I throw up.

Aww, poor lambkin.  Like, there’s the door.  Bye, Felicia.  Get the fuck outta here.

4. Do you have a fever? You look sweaty.

No, really, Sherlock?  Try vomiting constantly for 9 hours and see if you don't goddamn sweat.  I don't need to go to the gym for a month at this rate!  My chest muscles ache like I've been bench-pressing the Empire State Building!

This beast is supposed to be gone in 2-3 days from onset.  That makes tomorrow my 3rd day.  I think I might make it.  I might even try eating something other than wibbly strawberry gelatin tonight.  Until then, where’s Chuck Norris…?

Stay healthy, guys.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book 3 is Here!

After days of rewrites, fixes, nits, picks, and lots of swearing, the next book in the Dragonspawn Legacy series is finally done!  The Kindle version of "Dragon Resurrection" was approved tonight, and the Smashwords and CreateSpace versions are pending review as I type this.  Hopefully they'll be approved tomorrow!  It's ready for your hot little hands, so go get it!  Click "Purchase Our Books" above and click the link for the store you want.

UPDATE:  Smashwords version is now ready - check it out under our "Purchase our Books" tab.  The hard copy is on our way to us to get proofed!

UPDATE 2:  Hard copy is out and looks fab!  Also ready at Barnes & Noble!

In the meantime, check out this cover!  Is this not badass?  That dragon is freaking awesome, and that font is one of my and Rya's favorites because it makes that 3-D effect just pop!  We're excited - hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Surviving Dante’s Inferno

It’s hot.  Ridiculously hot.  Several hundred levels of Hell hot, including Satan’s kitchen, Satan’s armpit, Satan’s butthole, and other places and parts of Satan that probably exist and shouldn’t and I don’t care to know about them.  All I know is that I’m miserable as hell and I’m counting down the days to 17 inches of ice and snow, and at this point I will gladly withstand several hours of Elvis Presley crooning “Blue Christmas” until I impale myself on an icicle, as long as said icicle is cold and refreshing.

People love summer.  Gosh, they just LURRRRRRVE summer.  Summer!  Yay, summer!  There’s dancing snowmen who love summer.  There's memes all over Facebook telling folks how they want to be sitting on a completely secluded beach (always empty!) with a cold drink and an umbrella, giving us that stellar vista of blue water, clear sky, and perfectly-placed flip-flops, toes-up in the sugar-white sand, probably with some type of tropical flower (plastic optional) of an contrasting color (orange or pink seem to be the norm) artistically placed somewhere nearby, with a lovely sea shell set at a 45-degree angle or some shit like that.  Summer!  Yay!

Yeah.  Yay.

Here’s my reality check, in the middle of this August day:  Summer is nothing but steaming, muggy, baking, frying, wretched fucking heat.  Enormous electric bills because of the 9,423,203,472 fans and air conditioners set up in my house to keep the temperature palatable.  Lightning storms whose fat black clouds promise lots of rain and then just splatter out a couple of drops.  Water shortages.  Dead grass.  Dying plants, which I spent a fortune on in springtime and am now struggling to keep the bastards alive.

And, of course, bugs.  Let’s not forget the goddamned bugs.  Not flittering butterflies and blinking fireflies, like you see on the Facebook posts of the “Yay Summer” crowd.  I’m talking BUGS.  Billions of enormous cicadas shrieking their sex songs in the trees until well after 9pm, falling on me from the branches when they lose their grip on the bark.  (That’s always a good time.)  Praying mantises the size of sanitation trucks munching out on monstrous crickets while hanging out on my front door, conveniently camouflaging themselves from my view until my hand is almost on top of them.  (Insert steamwhistle shrieking here.)  Wasps, whose sole purpose in life is to sting everything that moves, simply because…well, because they’re assholes, that’s why.  Unidentifiable creatures with hundreds of legs and eyes, hiding out, watching, just waiting to see what I’ll do when I notice them. 

And since it’s mid-August, it’ll soon be time for Spider Days!  Yes, Spider Days, ladies and gentlemen, that time of year when the Arachnid Olympics takes place around my homestead.  Spiders with 2-inch leg spans compete to see who can build the most vast, State-sized webs…webs they build anywhere and everywhere there’s a place to fasten a piece of web.  Between telephone wires.  From low-hanging tree branches to the ground, usually on my back-porch path.  My favorite is between my carport wall and my car, which I can’t see at 5:30 in the morning, and of course I walk right into them.  I get my entire cardio exercise for one week done in the screaming spider web dance I perform when that happens.  I don’t care that it’s 5:30 in the morning, I’m in the middle of a fucking web, that spider could be anywhere on my body, and I will NOT be silent! 

I am counting the days until winter, people.  Until then, I will hunker down beside the A/C, and will continue writing the next story.  I will continue to pour water on my fading plants.  And I will buy Raid.  Lots and lots of Raid.  Butterflies and fireflies, beware, I don’t check my spray.

Think snow,